Are you a fast talker or slow talker? Be a mix of both to effectively get your message across! [Wednesdays: “Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”]
150 words per minute.
According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, this is the average speaking rate for English speakers in the US.
The word count still varies depending on one’s mood, such as if a person is happy, excited, angry, frustrated, nervous, etc.
Whenever you speak in front of an audience, do you notice yourself speaking too fast when you’re nervous or too slow when you’re experiencing a mental block?
If your answer is “yes,” then you probably have an idea about what we’ll discuss in this article.
Tempo or pace is an important element in public speaking. This is the rate or speed of a motion or activity, or in this case, your speaking rate.
Dale Carnegie said in his book, “The Art of Public Speaking,”
“Naturalness, or at least seeming naturalness, is greatly to be desired. A continual change of tempo could go a long way towards establishing it.”
As a speaker, one of your goals should be to speak at a conversational pace.
This means avoiding speaking at a steady or too robotic pace that ends up sounding monotonous and boring to your audience. Instead, practice using a combination of slow, medium, and fast tempo to make your talk more lively and engaging.
Here are tips for when you should change your pace:
- Fast – To indicate passion, urgency, excitement, and other strong emotions.
- Slow – To indicate importance, sadness, confusion, seriousness of a topic, or an introduction of new ideas in your talk.
Keep these guidelines in mind because when you speak quickly throughout your speech or presentation, you’ll initially excite the audience but after a few minutes, they’ll eventually feel overwhelmed.
On the contrary, when you speak slowly most of the time, you’ll grab your audience’s attention and help them process every word. However, an entire talk done in a slow pace will bore your listeners; they will lose interest while waiting for you to get to the point.
So… what’s the best way to move forward with your talk?
Mix it up! Keep the majority of your speech or presentation at an ordinary conversation range, then change your tempo to emphasize important points and influence your audience’s emotions.
Below are 4 tempo-managing tips for effective communication:
- End your sentences.
In writing, we use periods to end sentences. In public speaking, it’s called, “pause.”
As a speaker, you must know how to maximize the use of pauses in delivering your message.
Imagine yourself talking for 5 minutes without momentary stops in between.
No matter how beautiful or valuable your message is, it will be less impactful. At the end, your audience might get lost or overwhelmed because they can’t keep up with what you’re saying!
Make it a habit to complete and end your sentences. This is a simple tool that will help improve your communication strategy as a speaker.
Besides, taking a pause adds a positive effect to your speech or presentation. This enables you to deliver a heartfelt expression and gain a positive response from your audience.
Additionally, a temporary stop in your talk is a good substitute for filler words such as “and,” “so,” “uh,” “uhm,” etc.
- Slow down!
Some speakers tend to talk too fast when they’re nervous. It’s as if they want to get through their speech or presentation as quickly as possible so they can go somewhere else and relax.
As a speaker, it’s important to see public speaking as an opportunity to showcase your expertise and not as a burden or obligation.
Take your time… but don’t take too long that you’re also eating up other speakers’ presentation time.
What we’re saying is it’s okay to slow down a bit at some parts of your talk so you can deliver your message clearly and effectively.
When you want to make a point that is central to your message, dwindle your pace a bit to give your audience enough time to process what you’ve said.
Doing so will help you get your core message or idea across.
- Resume speaking at a slightly fast pace.
If you’re a slow talker, knowing how to pick up your tempo is important.
Why is that so?
It’s because when you deliver your speech or presentation at a snail’s pace, chances are your audience will begin to daydream or get inside their own bubble and no longer listen to your talk.
You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?
To prevent yourself from having a steady, boring pace throughout your talk, practice picking up your tempo after slowing down and emphasizing an important point.
This will help you spice up the delivery of your speech or presentation and at the same time, sustain your audience’s attention.
According to Dale Carnegie,
“Any big change of tempo is emphatic and will catch attention. You may scarcely be conscious that a passenger train is moving when it is flying over the rails at ninety miles an hour, but if it slows down very suddenly to a ten-mile gait, your attention will be drawn to it very decidedly. You may forget that you are listening to music as you dine, but let the orchestra either increase or diminish its tempo to a very marked degree and your attention will be arrested at once.”
Use this principle in public speaking!
Work your way towards a more vibrant and lively talk.
If you have a point that you want to emphasize, change your tempo to attract attention and compel your audience to listen to you.
… and just as Carnegie said, have a mix of slow, moderate, and fast tempo to hook your listeners’ attention and deliver a more conversational presentation.
Apply these tips in your next public speaking engagement and give your listeners a talk they will positively remember!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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