Speaking Slowly Will Transform Your Communication – See How in this TEDx Talk (video)

One of the most frequent changes I make with my clients is to force them to slow down when they speak.

This seemingly simple adjustment almost always creates a huge change in how they sound.

But they sometimes ask: “If I slow down, will I be able to say everything I need to?”

Well, watch the following video and find out.

Dr Daniel Amen speaks very slowly in this TEDx talk. In fact, he’s right on the edge of almost being too slow for a well-educated adult audience of fluent speakers.

I looked at the transcript of this talk and counted the total words. In 14 minutes and 26 seconds of speaking, he utters 1,751 words. That is a rate of 121 words per minute.

How fast does the average American speak? Estimates vary from 110 to 160 words per minute.

So Dr Amen is right near the bottom of the range.

In under 15 minutes, he is able to make a number of important points, pique our interest, tell multiple stories with passion and emotion, and convey useful information concisely.

Less than 15 minutes to accomplish all of that. In 1,751 words, which is the length of about five or six online news articles.

A typical meeting, sales pitch or internal presentation will easily last 15 minutes (most meetings shouldn’t last longer than that anyway).

By speaking slower, you get a number of benefits:

  • You will feel more relaxed and in control, which is critical when speaking to a group
  • Your words will have more weight and power because there are fewer of them–in other words, you aren’t “devaluing the currency”
  • You will be able to inject more emotion, passion and emphasis into your words because you aren’t rushing to get to the next sentence
  • You will be able to manage your pacing more effectively, while getting less distracted by random thoughts, side-points and tangents that pop into your head
  • You will come across as more relaxed, steady, confident and knowledgeable

Speaking too quickly puts pressure on yourself and gives your words less significance. You feel more rushed, you sound more rushed, and you have less control over your own mouth.

Your mouth will randomly start saying things because of that fast momentum. You then feel obligated to finish those thoughts and you get off-track, undercutting your own presentation and making you look more disorganized and out-of-control.

And your audience has a harder time following what you are saying. They will automatically discard lots of the words coming out of your mouth, weakening your impact, and making you seem less reliable and believable.

If you are still wondering if speaking with fewer words can make an impact, just remember one of the most famous speeches of all time. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was 278 words.

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