I’ve been told for a long time that I need to slow down when I speak, but I haven’t really made a committed effort to do so. Recently, however, someone told me that speaking too fast is probably the number one thing holding me back, so I’m going to give it a real shot.
But how? Based on a little research, this will be the method I start with.
Unsurprisingly, the secret to speaking slower seems to be awareness and practice.
How to build awareness?
Here is one technique for how I can become aware of how fast I speak, even if I can’t always keep it top of mind:
- Listen to people speaking, e.g. talk radio, Ted talks
- Make an effort to notice speed and energy.
- Calibrate my mind to categorize and instantly recognize:
- low speed + high energy
- high speed + high energy
- low speed + low energy
- high-speed + low energy
- Notice the impact each has on me.
- Recognizing the category and recognizing the impact – in others and myself – will become two cues that trigger awareness.
How to practice actually speaking more slowly:
- Don’t practice on family or close friends and colleagues. They know me, read me and understand me, and will think I am acting weird.
- Instead, practice with new people (or speaking to groups). That can become a cue in itself: Meeting new people triggers awareness. My own theory, based on that, is that I’ll get disproportionate results from simply rehearsing a few slow introductions: Hi ____, I’m Christian. It is nice to meet you.
- In order to remember to keep the pace down, tap out a slow, relaxed beat. I’ve downloaded a metronome to my phone, which will be offscreen at my next Hangout, blinking at 35-40 bpm.
Other advice includes:
- Actually listen to my own words (through my ears, not inside my head).
- Picture my words leaving my mouth, travelling through the air, and being heard by the listener.
- And, of course, record myself – but who really does that?
About 18 hours and two new meetings in, at least the technique for awareness seems to give results. We’ll see…