Adjust Your Public Speaking Pace

This month’s question:

“I have a tendency to speak too rapidly when giving a presentation. Any suggestions on how to slow down the pace of my delivery?”

Response from the editors:

Most people have a tendency to speak too rapidly. That generally is not a problem in everyday conversation, but it can be disastrous in public speaking. Make sure you articulate each word in each sentence. Say every sentence a little slower each time you practice it. Pause briefly between sentences or between your major points. And vary your pitch and volume to draw out some words or phrases for emphasis.

If used properly, gestures can help you regulate the tempo of your delivery. Practice using appropriate gestures that are natural to you to help illustrate or emphasize points.

Each of those techniques will help you focus on delivery. And that, in turn, will steady your pace. Warning: When most people slow their pace, they tend to reduce their volume. Maintain a volume level that all your listeners can hear—all the time.


April’s Poll Results:

In last month’s poll, we asked “How do you remember the material for your speeches?” The majority of you replied that you use notes.

If you choose to rely on notes, writing key points from your speech on notes cards is the best—and most discreet—method. Just be sure to practice using the note cards. If you find yourself reading your note cards too much, that is a sure sign that you need to reduce the amount of written text on each card. All you need are short phrases or key words to jog your memory. Include quotes, statistics and lists you may need, not paragraphs of text. Remember:Number your note cards in case you drop them.


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Delivered each month, American Speaker Forum offers you public-speaking advice and tips for wowing your audience during your next presentation. This resource also offers you a way to ask for feedback on your next speaking engagement and to share your own experience with your colleagues.

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