If you find that you’re regularly speaking too fast when presenting, there can be many reasons for this. Nerves, enthusiasm for your topic, or your natural speaking style are just a few. And when this happens and your mouth is moving faster than your brain, it’s easy to feel out of control and say something you don’t intend to, stumble or make mistakes.
You can end up gabbling and accelerating, sometimes chaotically, to the end. And breathing properly? Demonstrating presence? Forget that! Presence doesn’t exist when we’re not present – and rushing means exactly that.
Instead, the goal is to get your brain and mouth moving together in happy coordination.
You’ll feel such a sense of control too, which is a key factor we’re always aiming for when we speak.
For one way to achieve this control and co-ordination, I have a slightly unusual concept you might want to test:
Try writing the words in your mind as you speak them.
‘Seeing’ them in your mind’s eye already written can work too. A slightly different mental tweak also worth experimenting with.
While you’d never want – or be able – to do this throughout a whole presentation, it’s a great tool to practise beforehand, and to deliver key messages with presence.
Anchoring yourself more closely to your words also makes you sound thoughtful and reflective, which can help to give you a sense of gravitas – weight to your words – and stronger presence. That’s always going to be a win!
As a client who tried the idea said to me this week “I hear my mind working now! And have time to reflect and change course if I need to”.
Of course, test this out at home first! While it can work brilliantly for people, you wouldn’t want to find out that it throws you off completely while you’re actually in front of people.
I’ve also written about finding more time and room for yourself and your words by thinking about ‘white space’ when speaking. How much more ability you have to convince and persuade your listeners when you give yourself more room to let your ideas ‘land’.
Footnote – if you have too much content
And if you rush because there’s too much content for your allocated time? Maybe you can’t work out what’s most important and don’t have the time or inclination to work through it. Or your organisation forces you to present in a very short time-frame, but wants to know more information than you’ve got time to fit in.
If you’ve got too much content to fit into the timeframe, today’s tip won’t help. Instead, see if you can be more concise, and cut out words or ideas that don’t absolutely have to be there. Even when it doesn’t seem possible to remove content, I’ve found with almost all clients something which can be taken out.
So if you do regularly find yourself speaking too fast when presenting or speaking to a group, give writing or seeing a few words as you speak them a try.
You might also enjoy a popular post on adding too much detail when presenting, and how that exhausts your audience.
Best wishes with your public speaking and presentations!