So how do you talk slower, or get other people to talk slower during a presentation? Oh by the way I’m Michael, part of The Presentation Maestro.
Well let’s start by recognising why most of us speed up and it’s to do with adrenalin. If you’re slightly keyed up, a little uptight, a little bit wired, like most people are during and before a presentation, one of the side-effects of adrenalin is that it completely distorts your sense of timing. And a) one tends to gabble, but what also happens is b) is that pauses just seem to disappear. So what give the effect of gabbling and talking very fast is A) talking fast, B) not having any pauses in there. So how do you get round this?
A couple of ways. Number one I’d get used to doing some breathing exercises before you present. And the one I’m going to suggest is really really simple. Just do four or five deep breaths through your nose into the bottom part of your lungs like this [DEMO] Through your nose right down into the tummy [DEMO]
Four or five of those will get you into a state of nice relaxed alertness, where you tend not to gabble too much. Secondly I would actually raise your own awareness of how much you are gabbling or talking too fast. So take the recorder on your smartphone – you don’t need to use the video recorder just use the voice recorder – and record yourself next time you’re giving a talk or even practising for it, and particularly if it’s a real one when the adrenaline is going a little, you’ll hear how fast you are, you’ll hear how few pauses there are. And when you listen to the take afterwards your unconscious brain will be listening to it as well as your conscious brain and it’ll go ‘ah, I need to do something about that.’ and the changes start to happen.
But thirdly, let’s acknowledge something, you may be like our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who has actually a habit of talking very fast indeed as you probably noticed. But what he does do is actually….. pause….in the middle of sentences…. quite a bit. I’m not suggesting you emulate his style, but if you’re a naturally brisk, fast, speaker just putting a lot of pauses in there can give the illusion of slowing down a bit – and it’s a lot easier for the audience to take on board.
So in summary, how do you slow down when talking? Number one, do some breathing beforehand into your lungs; Two raise awareness of how fast you are and how little pauses you’ve got by taping yourself, and three put pauses in there anyway – If in doubt PAUSE.