(Editor’s note: This was one of the top viewed stories of 2014. We’re rerunning it as part of a look back at the articles that captivated our readers the most.)
Are you a fast talker? Do you try to cram too much into your presentations and compensate with speed? Does your nervousness make you race to the finish?
No matter why you speed ahead, those of us listening will get more out of your talk if you slow down.
Here are five ways to hit the brakes and pace yourself during a presentation or public speaking gig:
1. Don’t speak as fast as you do in conversation.
You might speak as many as 400 words a minute in a lively conversation, but your audience needs you to slow down to 140-160 words a minute. It takes work to develop a slower presenting style, but you’ll be a more effective speaker.
2. Work on your nerves.
Speaking fast doesn’t help you or your audience, no matter how much you want to get your talk over with. Don’t speed up to solve your nerves problem. Do breathing exercises and get more practice until you’re confident enough to pace yourself.
3. Think of speaking like keeping time in music.