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.
How to Slow Down
- 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.
- Use a count of two or three on essential words and a count of 1 on non-content words.
- 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.
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.
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. 🙂