Speak slower

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…