Speed in any type of oral communication is very similar to that in driving a vehicle. If you move along at 100 miles an hour, you stand a greater chance of having an accident than if you are doing 75 mph. The difficulty with talking too fast is two-fold:
1. you stand the chance of making more mistakes; and,
2. you will tire your listeners as well as yourself.
One of the biggest problems for novice speakers (as well as for a few professional speakers) is going 100 miles per hour when 75 will do nicely. You are still moving well at the somewhat slower speed but by no means are you going slowly. While an occasional mistake made during a speech or a presentation is not the problem, tripping over your words because you are talking too fast is inexcusable. Delivering a presentation that is replete with ‘talking typos’ because of excessive speed is unfair to your listeners.
The other problem with speaking too quickly is that you will lose your listeners’ attention. If you audience is struggling to keep up with your words, then they will not only tire more quickly but they will lose interest and become fascinated with their iPhones or laptops.
Ideally, a good rate of speech is anywhere between 140 and 180 per minutes. The next 3 paragraphs contain 168 words. Practice reading the 3 paragraphs out loud several times and then set your timer for 1 minute and begin reading.
Learning how to control your speed is part of good voice training. When you can take the pressure off your throat and voice box and allow your chest to power your sound, you will not only discover a richer, warmer, deeper voice, but you will also gain control over your speed. In the process, you will discover the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking.
While those hailing from the Mid-Atlantic States are renowned for being fast drivers and fast talkers, imagine adding nervousness to that picture. If you already speak at a fast clip, nervousness is only exacerbating the problem.
Your primary reason for public speaking is to impart knowledge in some fashion to those in attendance who have gone out of their way to hear you. If your audience is struggling to keep up with you, then your message will be lost. It is your responsibility to ensure that they can fully understand and appreciate what you have to say.
If you finished, or almost finished, all three paragraphs in one minute, then your speed is within the norms. If you completed all three with time to spare, however, then you must slow down.
Being able to control your speed is just one of the marvelous benefits of having total control over your voice.
The Voice Lady, Nancy Daniels, offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only complete video training program on voice improvement.