Speaking fast vs talking slow

When it comes to our habits of speaking, pace is one of the great influencers. It can create or destroy power of our message.

WHAT IS BETTER?

Short answer to that question is: Speaking slow is better. Of course it is a general rule. It applies up to about 70% of times.

You see, people who aren’t comfortable in social situations want to throw information as fast as possible. We fear that if we slow down we’ll be interrupted and never given “the floor” again. When it comes to meeting new people or giving public speeches our brains deal with the fear of unknown and fear of being excluded from social circle. And the sole asset we have – information could not be “sold”.

Second group of people who are speaking too fast are visual thinkers (and this more often than not combines with being nervous). It is true that image tells story 1000 words strong. One thought of visual thinker is a lot of information to share. Look even at the sizes of digital files – one that contains an image, and one that contains words. To translate that one image into information using even advanced technology would take stupendous time. So visual thinkers pace themselves, because they have this much information to share.

For this two groups – majority of us all – advice is 1/3 slower minimum. Up to a half. With practice of using pauses and proper intonation of sentences and accents you won’t be interrupted. Andto effectively share your vision it has to sink in. Otherwise it will be dismissed by intuitive mind of your audience.

WHAT WITH PEOPLE THAT TALK TOO SLOW?

It rarely is the case. Take the person you are sure is speaking too slow and tell me this: Is his/her intonation well rounded or flat? Or every sentence ends up intonated like question would be (high pitch at the end? Is his/her speech rhythmically monotonic? And last but not least, is she/he animated while speaking? Meaning: using gestures, facial expressions, drawing the picture with body as well as the content.

Obviously there is some percentage of sluggish pacers. No question. But “speak faster” would never be my first advice.

–          Przemek Kucia

Please, share and like if you liked it. And tell me: do you tend to speak too fast while facing challenging social situations? I definitely am. Take care!

6 thoughts on “Speaking fast vs talking slow

  1. Eric Tonningsen says:

    First and foremost, know your audience. Know their individual/collective learning styles, then tailor your message to what they need and want to hear/learn. Only then do technical aspects of communication and delivery come into play. To your question: I am more often a paced (which leans toward slower) speaker. 🙂

    • Przemek Kucia says:

      Absolutely agreed. If there is a smear of chance to know audience and their preferences the speech is this closer to be golden ^^ To further case of content – there is little to no chance of captivating the audience with poor message. Yet, relationship between style and substance is symbiotic. And more often than not, great messages don’t realize their potential because of poor delivery. People with something to say tend to be focused on the content than the form.

      I came across very little number of people who would naturally speak slowly (or at leas lean toward slow delivery). That’s interesting. Was it natural for you? I’m very curious if awareness of time come with confidence and experience, or is it something to improve only by conscious effort (like ie. diction).

    • Przemek Kucia says:

      Have you ever experienced this weird feeling that your thoughts outrun your words by few or more sentences? For those kinds of pace problems there is technique – try to put sensory impressions or emotions or feeling in what you describe. Visual thinkers often lack those kinds of reflections. People who naturally speak slowly tend to think in terms of feelings.

      You could try and think about delivery while providing descriptions. Not in terms of second guessing yourself but rather being aware of your body, voice and tempo. You know what I mean? Thinking “oh, I should slow down” does not slow down your thought process. Use this extra time to be mindful about what and how you say it.

      I hope that helps 🙂 Take care and thanks for adding into discussion!

      • misssamanthajill says:

        I actually have that problem frequently! I try to explain things throughly, using sensory, or emotions, however, it doesn’t always work. I guess I just have a lot of thoughts that want to be said all at once!

        Sometimes I’ve noticed that taking a breath before speaking can help clear my mind, but if I’m rambling on, it’s difficult to slow down. That’s something I plan to work on in the near future.

        • Przemek Kucia says:

          I know what you mean. I personally struggle with this issue too. You are on great track and as you mentioned – it is a case of practicing delivery. Just like you would train muscles 🙂

          Sometimes I would just be stuck for up to 10 – 15 seconds (and as you probably know those seconds are one of the longest in life ;)) in complete silence to gather and stack thoughts in some order. In non-professional situations I still speak too fast, but these situations of being stuck are less frequent for sure.

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