Our world has changed its velocity in speaking. People speak faster and faster. Driven mostly by technological progress and global integration, the speed of everything is going up and up, and this is demanding that we speak in a different way to adapt to that change.
The normal conversational speech is about 160-180 words per minute. If you talk a lot faster your words slide into one another and what you’re saying becomes unintelligible. A one-step cure for talking too fast is to enunciate every word clearly. This automatically reduces your speed and makes your speech effective and comprehensible.
I was listening last week to a Webinar, with a speaker that I happen to know personally. His usual style of speaking was to pause at the end of his sentences. It was always an extremely professional presentation with a lot of valuable information. The meeting planner made use of word speed-enhancing technology and thought she was improving the presentation, by removing all of the speaker’s pauses. The results on the feedback sheets was an audience interpretation of seeing the speaker as fearful or anxious, lacking self-confidence or being defensive.
Remember when presenting to slow down to be in the normal conversational rate.
Another strategy for speaking too quickly is to make use of the “pause”.
Following are five main pauses used in professional speaking.
1. START Pause: When you first stand at the podium or in front of the room, scan your audience, from the right, centre and left and back to the centre for 3 seconds smiling. Get eye contact and then begin for 2 seconds. 5 seconds total
2. TRANSITIONAL Pause: It is important to be able to separate one thought from another. Always pause at the end of your sentence or you will sound like one long run-on sentence. Think of your pause like a period at the end of a sentence. 1-2 seconds
3. REFLECTIVE Pause: Give your audience time to reflect on what you have said. 2-4 seconds
4. DRAMATIC Pause: If incorporating storytelling into your presentation, make sure you pause as a tease or for dramatic purpose. 3 seconds
5. CLOSURE Pause: Always be gracious and poised at the end of your presentation. Stay on the platform. Don’t run off. 5 seconds.
A Professional Public Speaking level requires the three C’s: Confidence, Credibility and Clarity, and don’t forget to PAUSE.