Slow Down: How To Stop Being A Fast Talker
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Smart Speaking: 60-Second Strategies For More Than 100 Speaking Problems and Fears by Laurie Schloff and Marcia Yudkin.
Some fast talkers come from families where there is a lot of competition for the floor. Fast talking was originally a way to get their parents’ attention, and the habit stuck. Others come from families that seem to have a genetic speed streak—they walk fast, work fast, and also talk fast.
Some people race talk because they feel no one really wants to listen to them. They don’t like to listen to themselves speak and want to get it over with as soon as possible. Finally, rapid speech can be a sign of stress. When your body is feeling great pressure, all your bodily rhythms speed up including speech.
The good news about fast-talking is that studies show listeners prefer a faster-than-average speaking rate to a slower-than-average rate. The bad news is that speaking at a breakneck speed can leave a negative impression. If you are talking so fast that people find you hard to understand or wonder why you’re so eager to “get it over with,” start slowing down your speech with this technique.
1. Use the One-Two technique.
Count “one-two” in your head at natural pauses between phrases, sentences, and items in a list. The extra second will help you control your breathing better and allow time for listeners to absorb what you’ve said.
Example: “I’m glad to be meeting you today [one-two]. Before we get on with our agenda [one-two], I’d like to ask each of you [one-two] to introduce yourself [one-two] and tell us a bit about your company.”
2. Practice the One-Two technique while reading a newspaper or a magazine article aloud.
Use a tape recorder to double-check that you’ve really allowed the pause it takes to say “one-two.”
Once when I discussed speech improvement techniques at an attorney’s association, a young woman attorney came up to me afterwards and said she wondered if it might be a good idea for her to talk fast. “Why?” I asked. “Because my clients are poor, and that way they get their money’s worth,” she said.
“Well, not if the clients have to spend an extra half hour asking you to repeat what they didn’t understand the first time,” I replied.
This is an excerpt from Smart Speaking: 60-Second Strategies For More Than 100 Speaking Problems and Fears by Laurie Schloff and Marcia Yudkin.