Take Your Time

18th February, 2014 - Posted from janebeard

The old comedy duo Bob and Ray used to do a great set piece on “Slow Talkers of America.” It’s still funny today — check it out.

It’s pretty rare to hear a slow talker these days. More commonly, the speakers we hear are candidates for membership in the FTOA: Fast Talkers of America.

Maybe it’s a product of a constantly multi-tasking society, or a fear that you might lose the audience if you take a breath. Whatever the cause, the problem seems to be getting worse.

Still, when we coach speakers, we never say, “Don’t speak so fast!” As soon as you ask the brain to focus on a behavior you don’t want it to do, it now begins to think less creatively. It’s avoiding a behavior, preventing mistakes, and that’s a less resourceful place from which to deliver your presentation.

Instead we tell them to pick a few places and take more time there. Find the five-seven key messages and let them land. Consciously slow down in those places, so we really hear you. First, the change in rhythm will cue us to listen. Second, the slower pace will allow us to really hear the words.

One mechanical way to get yourself to slow down is to hit all the consonants in the key sentence. Practice that over and over until the muscles in your mouth learn a stronger articulation in those few sentences. Then, when you get going in performance, you will naturally slow down in the right places.

Taking your time through the whole talk just doesn’t work for a Fast Talker. And forced slowness can become as painful for us in the audience as it was for Bob (or Ray) in the sketch above. But it’s a real help to take your time in a few key parts of your talk.

Check it out.