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  • Writer's pictureJulia Zay

Speaking of Speech - Fast Talker

Are you a Fast Talker?

No, I’m not wondering if you are a used car salesperson or someone trying to hoodwink a gullible person. Literally, I’m asking if you speak fast. It’s not the worst thing if you do, but it often leaves your listener puzzled and frustrated because they don’t understand you. Talking fast isn’t effective communication if your words race to the end of your thought without carrying any meaning to your listener.

You might not even realize you are a fast talker and not understand why people often don’t grasp what you are saying. Maybe you are just a “situational” fast talker; for instance, at times when you’re nervous. Whether fast talking is a habit or a sometimes thing, talking too fast often has unwanted consequences. Rushing your words to the finish line of your thought can lead the listener to a lack of understanding of what you just said, or maybe worse, a costly misunderstanding.

Take heart, there are clues that will help you know if you are not accurately communicating to your listener due to talking too fast. Here are some:

-A listener gives you a weird response, such as: a slightly off reply or a completely unrelated response to what you’ve just said; or they may abruptly change the topic; or they keep saying, “what?”

-You can check the listener’s facial expression for a clue or clues, such as: their eyes are squinted, their head tilts, their eyebrows are knitted together, or they press their lips together tightly, or they give off a look of disinterest, or frustration, or irritation.

-And then there are the no-longer-a-listener clues: The most obvious, closed eyes, totally asleep in their chair, snoring. If not that far gone, you might notice a blank stare that tells you they are no longer mentally in the room with you; instead, they’re inside their own heads, thinking of their next meal, or what they’re going to do tonight, or how they’re planning their strategy as to how they’re going to make their exit from your presence.

So now you might ask, how do I slow down so I can keep my listener’s attention and get my point across? Here’s some actions that you can take to help you slow down and better articulate your words:

-Focus on saying your words clearly, crisply, and distinctly, so your listener will hear each word, instead of a slur of words that slam into each other and carry no meaning. This will slow you down and allow you to sound more articulate. At first, it might help to exaggerate the slowness and then gradually increase you pace to a moderate stride.

- Insert pauses, now and then. Doing this will help control the pace of your delivery. Furthermore, pausing before an important point has a way of grabbing your audience’s attention, making them anticipate your next words.

-Monitor yourself. Pay attention to how fast you are speaking. If it’s too fast, stop, take a breath and start back up, slowing your words.

-If nerves are getting the best of you before a public speaking engagement or a stressful situation where you’re likely to talk too fast, practice deep breathing and/or other calming techniques that work for you before you begin, then engage the practices of pausing and clearly articulating your words.

- Get hints by listening closely to dynamic speakers such as, orators, lecturers, storytellers, spokespersons. Tune into speakers who command attention, like Presidents Obama and recordings of Ronald Reagan and Mia Angelo.

-For practice, record yourself and playback until you get your speech where it’s easily understood, and you like your presentation.

You will be a more effective communicator by bringing your listener to the finish line with you by practicing these helpful steps!

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