How to Speak Slower When Presenting (to Make Yourself Understood)
For many people, speaking in front of a crowd is bound to elicit some jittery feelings. Nervousness, like many other feelings, may affect how you give your presentation which could, in turn, affect the quality of your presentation.
The most common way nervousness presents itself is through rushed speaking. You may not mean to do it but it does happen, which is totally understandable if you ask me, or anyone who gets jittery right before a presentation.
So, how do you ensure that your audience gets to hear all the words you utter, understand them and ultimately, remember them? By speaking slower of course!
To help with this, we’ve compiled a few tips that may be beneficial not only to you but also to your audience. You may also find these tips to be useful if you’re naturally a fast talker.
9 Tips to Speak Slower When Doing Public Speaking
Plan your pace
On average, a person can speak 140 words per minute. When you’re excited or nervous though, this number could increase.
While there’s nothing wrong with trying to convey excitement to your audience, speeding through your entire presentation may make you appear like you lack confidence or you’re nervous, instead of that you’re just excited to talk about your topic of presentation.
If this does happen, you should try to:
Slow it down
Try to deliberately decrease your pace, especially when discussing important information that is key to your presentation or when talking about complex information that may confuse your audience.
However, if you’re about to reach the punch line of an interesting story you’re giving, issuing an important call to action or trying to express excitement, you can employ a bit more speed for about a minute before slowing back down once more.
Employ more pauses
Being jittery during your presentation and trying to rush through it may not give your audience time to process what you’re saying, which means that they may miss out on some of the important points of your presentation.
Additionally, people who are naturally fast talkers may find that reducing their talking speed also reduces their energy, which doesn’t really help keep your audience’s attention.
So, what will help you emphasize key points to your audience while also ensuring that you don’t mess around too much with your natural flow? Pausing!
Adjusting your pauses
This is a great way to allow your audience time to understand what you mean while also allowing you time to breath and gather your next set of talking points, in a calm manner.
While pausing will not necessarily slow how quickly you’re uttering your words, it does give your audience the perception that you’re speaking more deliberately and slowly.
Pro-Tip: It would help if you practiced adjusting your gaps as you practice your speech or presentation. You could even write down where you plan to pause in your script.
Try timing yourself
Practice does in fact make perfect, so try practicing.
Practicing will make you more confident in your presentation and allow you to make any corrections you deem appropriate while also affording you the chance to sprinkle in some pauses in your presentation, at junctures that allow the important points you’re trying to emphasize to sink in.
Try interacting with your audience
If your presentation allows you to read your written work, try to remember that you read faster than you talk.
Keeping your eyes focused on the script in your hand prevents you from interacting with your audience, which makes it easier for you to lose their attention as you drone on.
So, in order to prevent that from happening while also ensuring that key points in your presentation aren’t breezed through, you can do the following:
Mark your script
As you practice, make tiny marks along the lines you plan to pause on.
Make eye contact with your audience
Some people may let this slip from their minds but it should always be known that eye contact is important when you’re trying to connect with your audience.
It helps that forging a connection isn’t as hard as it may seem. Simply try looking down to check your script then look back up, make eye contact with your audience and deliver your next point.
This allows you to connect with them while also giving you a chance to slow you pace, which is a win-win if you ask me.
Reiterate key points
Generally, repeating yourself helps your audience understand your message better, which makes it easier for them to recall the important points you made during your presentation.
If you’re talking too fast, reiteration also allows your audience to focus on your main points and catch up with you.
You can repeat your main points:
- In the beginning of your presentation, which helps lay out the main points you plan to talk about
- As you transition from one point to the next, which creates a bridge that allows you to ask your audience questions that will help them understand what you mean better
- Towards the end of your presentation, which allows you to send off your audience with the main points of your presentation
Try to avoid cramming
There’s a difference between understanding what your presentation is about and cramming your presentation’s content. Both may result in you knowing your presentation by heart but only one will benefit your audience.
Memorizing/cramming your presentation gives you a reason to race through it, which doesn’t give your audience much time to understand what you mean. Additionally, you may get confused if someone interrupts you or asks you a question when you’re in the middle of reciting your speech.
So, instead of memorizing, try to understand your speech. Yes, you’ll speak slower but you’ll also know what you’re talking about.
Stretch your vowels
If you have a heavy accent, then this technique may help you slow down while also allowing your audience to comprehend what you mean.
Taking the time to clearly pronounce the vowels you encounter also helps you stay focused while helping you appear calmer as you give your presentation, in addition to making you sound authoritative.
Use water as a prop
If you’re finding it hard to incorporate pauses into your presentation, having a bottle of water on stage may be useful to you.
Regularly drinking from the bottle of water placed next to you as you speak allows you to slow your talking pace while also creating natural pauses. Additionally, it keeps you hydrated, which is a bonus!
Ask for reminders
If you’re naturally a fast talker, letting your audience know that you speak fast and giving them permission to let you know when you’re speaking too quickly could also help you slow your pace.
Conclusion: On Speaking Slower when Presenting
If you have a great idea that you’d like to share with your audience but you aren’t conveying your message with confidence, your message may not be received in the way that you anticipated.
Feeling nervous while giving your presentation is completely normal. Reminding yourself about this allows you to pace your talking speed, which in turn makes you look confident. This may therefore make the audience more receptive to the information you’re sharing.
At the end of the day though, the most important bit of your presentation is ensuring that your audience understood the main points that you were trying to put across and could remember them. The tips above will help you to do just that.