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Tips to Help You Slow Down When Speaking in Public

Updated on November 12, 2017
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks loves writing interesting things and sharing her writing with others.

For Rapid Speakers

Some people talk too fast when they speak in public. They probably have been told by someone that they need to slow down. Some speakers have also recognized that it is a challenge for them to stop taking at a rapid pace.

Provided within this article are several basic tips to help the most rapid speakers slow down to a normal pace.

Five Ways To Slow Down While Speaking

Here are five ways to slow down during public speaking.

  1. Remember to speak slower than you would in an average conversation with your family and friends. People usually speak as many as 400 words a minute in most conversations. In public speaking, that number needs to be reduced to 140-160 words a minute, according to speech coaches. That might be hard to do at first, but try to gradually decrease the number of words per minute.
  2. Pace yourself through your speech. Don't rush through it just to get it all in by a certain time. A good suggestion is to shorten your speech so that you don't have to rush to finish it by a certain time.
  3. Think of speaking like keeping time in music with selahs in between sentences and paragraphs. Selah is the Hebrew word for the musical pause found in some of the psalms in the Bible.
  4. Plan pauses into your sentences. In fact, use shorter sentences that will almost force you to stop at the end of one sentence before starting a new one.This is easy to do if you are using notes or reading from a manuscript. Here is a good example. "There are 150 psalms / but they were not all written by David. / There are actually several other writers. / They include Moses / Korah / Asaph / Solomon / and many others." You can pause wherever you feel comfortable without it seeming like you are forcing it.
  5. Pause when giving a list of items. This will give your audience a chance to let the last thing you said to soak in before you give them another nugget to contemplate. Pausing will be very helpful for people who are taking notes.

Record Your Speech

It would be very helpful to record your speech on a tape recorder or on your smartphone. Then you will be able to hear what your audience hears. It might surprise you that you talk as fast as you actually do.

You can also ask a friend to evaluate your speech. Encourage the person to tell the truth so that you can do better. If no one points out to you that you are talking too fast, you might delivery every speech at the same speed.

Speakers who talk too fast appear

nervous even if they are not.

Neither Too Fast Nor Too Slow

Speech experts say those who speak too fast frustrate their audience just as much as hearing someone talk too slow. There should be a reasonable balance between the two speeds.

Audiences become frustrated if they miss a point. So they give up and tune out the rest of the speech.

Put Punctuation Marks in Your Speech

You would not write an entire paragraph without using punctuation marks. The same situation exists when you speak. You should put some punctuation marks in your speech.

A period means to stop. A comma means to slow down. A semi-colon means to do a combination of stopping and slowing down. You have probably never thought of it that way, but that's the way it should be in speaking just as much as it is in writing.

Video from Voice Coach

Final Tips

Here are some final tips that will help you.

  1. Try to find a friendly face in the audience. That person will acknowledge he is keeping up with you with a nod or some other gesture. That is a sign that you are connecting with your audience.
  2. Pay attention to your breath. People who have to stop and caught their breath while speaking is definitely talking too fast.

Warning

It will be a challenge to break the habit of speaking fast if you have always done it that way. It will be uncomfortable the first few times you attempt to slow down.

Be careful that your lack of comfort does not affect your audience. If you are uncomfortable, surely your audience will be uncomfortable also.

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