The faster you talk the harder it is for your audience to understand what you are saying. Not only are you speaking too fast for them to stay focused on you and your message but it also comes across as mumbling because you are not opening your mouth. The audience begins texting, falling asleep, making mental notes of everything they need to do once they get out of the room—they do a whole host of things, but the worst is they stop listening.
Studies actually show that people like speakers who speak faster than they like slow speakers. They say that the speaker comes across as having more energy and enthusiasm. So shouldn’t speaking fast be a plus? Yes and no. It is true that faster speakers in general are seen as more energetic but the key is to make sure that you vary your pace. If you keep it fast all the time, the audience zones out. If you slow the pace down from time to time to stress key points and then go back to speaking fast, this is where the plus comes in. It’s the variance in pace that creates the feeling of energy and enthusiasm. Fast pace alone won’t do it.
Knowing how to use pauses effectively is the next key. The pause is a speaker’s greatest friend—believe it or not it is also the audience’s greatest friend as well. I call that a win, win. The pause helps to punctuate your presentation. The pause is to speaking as punctuation is to writing. Writing without punctuation is ambiguous. Speaking without pauses is difficult to understand fully. It is a never ending barrage of sound that all runs together and the listener’s mind cannot stay tuned in.
Pausing can help you become more calm and relaxed. Pausing gives you time to think about what you are going to say and to take a nice deep diaphragmatic breath so you do not run out of air and you have that nice deep resonant voice when you open your mouth to speak. The pause helps you to punctuate those areas of your talk that need to be accented. The pause helps your audience digest your material, listen more attentively and log the information you are giving them into their brains. The brain is constantly in a state of listening to or digesting information. Your pause gives the audience the time for digesting, which is critical if you are going to have effective communication.
Varying your pace and effectively using pauses will help you and your audience in so many ways. If you use the critical 2Ps to your advantage you’ll deliver your presentation in a more powerful and persuasive manner to an audience who is attentively listening to what you have to say. Now you’re a presenter with a presentation worth listening to.
Debbie Darling, ©2015 The Presentation Pros
Read more of The Presentation Pros blog HERE.