This article is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the new book, Speaker’s EDGE …enjoy!
You’re charged with energy and maybe a bit nervous. Too often, this can translate into talking too fast. It might even result in a rise in voice pitch until the best-intentioned speaker sounds like Minnie Mouse. Worse yet, it can affect how the audience responds to your message.
So how do you know if your pace is right? Pay attention to audience feedback. If one person reports a problem with understanding you, this may be an individual perception or opinion. If several do, it’s time to time yourself as you deliver your program.
Try this test: record a casual conversation with a friend. Then compare the number of words per minute to a recording of one of your recent speaking presentations. Do you always speak quickly or just when you’re giving a speech? Did you deliberately speed up your presentation to meet some time constraint? If so, were you trying to include too much material? That’s a sign that you should cut some information to make the rest more effective. Remember, the audience does not know exactly what you intended to say so they won’t know what you left out!
If you decide you need to slow down your delivery, start before you even hit the stage. When you are putting together your remarks, think about logical places to slow down. It’s okay to speak quickly as long as you leave yourself room for pauses and silence. This is when you think and the audience digests what they heard. After all, you want your audience to remember and be able to repeat your message.
The faster you talk, the longer your pauses should be. Give the audience time to digest what you’ve just said. If you say something really profound or suggest something like, “Consider the proposal in front of you,” you are asking the audience to think. Give them time to do so.
Finally, here’s an excellent slow-down exercise. Practice reading your speech aloud. Pause for one second at a comma, two seconds at the end of a sentence, and three seconds after a paragraph. (You can count the seconds the same way you did as a child, saying “one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi” silently to yourself.) Then breathe … and smile! Go speak like the champion you are or will soon be!
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The article above is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the new book, Speaker’s EDGE by Patricia Fripp, Darren LaCroix, Ed Tate, Mark Brown, and Craig Valentine.
You can learn more about this fantastic new public speaking resource by visiting their World Champion Resources website.