When I start working with a new client, their speaking speed and pacing are two of the first things I look at.
People speak very fast when they’re presenting because they’re nervous or they feel under pressure. They have an urge to just get information out as quickly as possible.
But if you speak too fast, the audience just does not understand and retain the information you’re giving them. And if you speak too slow, the audience falls asleep and they’re just bored.
So keep your speaking to a steady pace.
Many people speak in a very stop-and-go fashion. They have bursts of speed followed by long gaps and long pauses.
I demonstrate this speaking style in the video above.
Adjusting Your Speaking Speed
I do lots of analysis of speeches. Interestingly, people that speak in the “stop-and-go” style actually speak slower on a minute-by-minute basis. They’re actually conveying less information.
This is because they have long gaps of silence in their speaking. Those gaps occur as they’re processing what to say next, or how to articulate their words. And those gaps cut down on the total general speed of what they’re saying.
Although a person might seem to be speaking slower, if they are speaking at a consistent pace over time, they often say more words and therefore convey more information.
So it’s more efficient, easier for the audience to understand, and much calmer--you feel much more calm when you control your speed and pacing.
You will probably be nervous before your next speech. Resist the urge to just blurt out information and then get the hell off the stage. Remain in control.
Control is one of the most important concepts for effective speaking.
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