Slow Down for Success

Years ago, my speech mentor, Dr. Barry Guitar at the University of Vermont, put me through a rather rigorous series of treatments designed to slow down my speech in an effort to help me overcome my stuttering and become more fluent.   This particular treatment is called “Delayed Auditory Feedback.”  At that time, the treatment consisted of a large set of earphones with an attached microphone.  When I spoke into the microphone, it re-played my speech into the earphones at a slower speed.  The goal was to slow down my speech to match the speed, or rate, that I was hearing through the earphones.  I started out speaking very slowly, and, over a couple of days, gradually built up to a “slow normal”.  I was working in a lab at the time, so it made for a couple of interesting days.  I think I drove my lab-mates a bit crazy with my slow talking, but everyone knew what I was up to and were very supportive.

A particularly useful benefit of slowing down our speech is that it allows our brains a few extra moments to dig down into that large reservoir of vocabulary we all carry around with us.  Using the correct words make you feel confident and your audience will pick up on that.

Children often talk fast because they are trying to get the attention of an authority figure.  When we talk fast, we can come across this way too.  If you want to be taken seriously and be viewed with greater authority, slow down.  People who speak slower often receive greater respect and credibility.

If you are speaking to someone who is unfamiliar with the subject matter, speaking slowly will help them better understand what you are saying.  You may even need to speak slower than what your normal “slow” rate may be.  They will appreciate it, especially if the subject matter is complicated.
Speaking slowly also allows you to “think” before you speak.  How often have we gotten into trouble by speaking too quickly?  Slowing down gives you the chance to change “direction” if you sense your listener is not on board or losing interest.  It also provides the opportunity to organize your thoughts on the fly.

Nervousness can be controlled by slowing down.  Adrenaline is directly related to stress.  The more stress we are under, the more adrenaline our body produces, which in turn increases heart rate and respiration.  Elevated heart rate and respiration not only make you more nervous; it makes you look nervous.  When we slow down, we are more likely to have lower adrenaline and be less nervous.

So let’s review.  Speaking more slowly makes us look and feel more in control, improves our vocabulary, enhances our credibility and allows our audience to better understand what we are saying.  In addition, it helps us control our nerves and gives us time to think before we speak.  Sounds like a winning combination, don’t you think?

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