how to slow down your speech

How to Slow Down Your Speech

Do people tell you you talk too fast? Are people advising you to slow down?

I’m here to tell you that you most likely don’t have to slow down per se. When people slow down, they end…up…sounding…like…this. That’s crazy boring and ultimately ineffectual, and you’ll lose people’s attention quickly. So don’t listen to people who tell you to use a metronome.

So how do we get people to process our information without sounding like we’re talking too fast? There are three things you need to do.


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How to Slow Down

  1. Speak in bullets. Chunk up your information and separate those chunks with pauses. Doing so allows you to take a breath in & formulate your next bullet in your mind. 
  2. Use a count of two or three on essential words and a count of 1 on non-content words.
  3. Vary your intonation. If you were to record yourself speaking on a conference call or during a meeting, you might be surprised to hear that you use the same length of time + volume on each syllable.

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Slow Down Using Intonation

If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to record yourself, listen to the others in the meeting with you. You could make it into a fun game. Are they fairly monotone? Is each syllable the same length & volume? Are they making their “and”s louder & more prolonged than the rest of the words in the sentence?

Here’s the deal: If you have one long run-on sentence and you’re talking pretty fast, people will have trouble processing, and after time check out. When you ask your best colleagues what they thought, they may say that you have to slow down. They’d be well-intentioned but misinformed.

Here are the steps to using a varied intonation pattern. And another article on how to use intonation.


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Slow Down Using Chunking

We’ve known about chunking information to help people’s memory and process data. When you use it in your speech you make it easier for people to process what you’re putting out there 🙂

So you most likely don’t need to say to yourself, “I have to slow down.” but would benefit from saying, “I need to speak in bullets and vary my intonation.

So yes, there’s a lot of misinformation about how to slow down your speech. Be sure not to use a metronome and do use chunking with a varied intonation pattern. Ensure the critical terms have a count of at least two and the “grammar glue” only have a count of 1/2 or 1. 🙂

Watch this video of Ita Olsen: Why am I Not Automatically an Incredible Speaker

9 thoughts on “How to Slow Down Your Speech”

    1. I’m a New Yorker too!
      Everything I’ve written in all of these articles I’ve done to myself! I used to be a crazy fast-talker, I used to use upspeak, the list goes on!

  1. Everything you write is completely the opposite of what I’ve been taught. I’ve always tried to slow down and I thought I had to slow the beat. But actually all I have to do is pause! I’ll try it and let you know how it goes!

  2. All helpful tips that I can incorporate into my own daily life. Chunking information is something I already practice when teacher but I had never known before to use a count of two or three on essential words and a count of one on non-content words.

  3. I took a speech class because I talk to fast and my coach had me sit there with a metronome and counted how many words I said per second. Ugh! Did not help me at all. Judging from this article if I had taken more than 1 session it would’ve done me more harm than good. I this makes more sense. ‘m going to try to speak in bullets. Thank you!

    1. Yes, yes! That’s what I learned to do in Speech Pathology school–To use a metronome and that there should be a certain number of words per minute. It didn’t sit well with me even then. But if you figure out which words don’t give your listener too much information and make those words smaller and of course, make the important words bigger–that’s what saves you all that time!
      Using the breath groups and pausing in between makes it so your listener can process what you’ve just said and you can formulate the next part of your message 🙂
      Let me know if you need help!

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