by David Hughes
For years I was a manager in a large corporation. When called upon to give presentations; to brief staff; or to brief senior management about business directions, I often spoke so quickly that many people in the room missed half the meaning and others missed all the meaning of what I was saying.
In those days I rattled off stories and information sessions so quickly that all I wanted was to get through all the material in the time I had, rarely pausing, keeping my eye on my stopwatch and sometimes on the audience, I rattled on as my anxiety levels rose, my heart raced, and my palms sweated.
I remember one time when giving a presentation, I asked for feedback and my manager said “You speak too quickly; slow down,” and others in the audience echoed his comments. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that.
That manager – who enjoys my eternal gratitude – steered me towards Toastmasters, telling me that Toastmasters was where I could learn, listen, speak, and above all slow down my speaking rate.
I took his advice, and started the journey. Boy, what a journey it’s been.
What I’ve learned along the way is that several factors influenced my speaking rate.
Longer words take more time to speak. Consider these two sentences:
In my speaking today and to slow down my speaking rate, I’ve learned that:
I know very few people who speak much too slowly, but quite a few who speak too fast. I was one who spoke too fast. Not now though, thanks to Toastmasters.
David Hughes – DTM