People in a hurry, or who are nervous, often speak fast. Their listeners don’t understand, and either ask them to repeat themselves, or stop trying to figure out what they said. In either case, the speaker’s message is lost, and the listener may be frustrated. If this happens enough, the speaker’s supervisor may be upset, subordinates stop trying to follow instructions, and possible sales or job promotions may be lost.
When trying to speak slower, focus on the goal of the message being understood, not on yourself as the speaker. If the information in your message may be complicated for your listener, the listener is in a noisy setting, may be distracted or may have a hearing loss, you need to be especially careful to speak more slowly. Again, this isn’t about you as the speaker; it’s about the goal of getting that message through to your audience.
Start by imagining yourself doing something you consider to be “slow”. That might be driving at 25 mph down a particular street, swinging on the porch swing, backing out of your driveway, watching a turtle walk, or some other image. Can you count to 20 at that slow pace? Can you say your telephone number at that pace (realizing a listener may be writing it down if you leave it on a voice mail)? Can you recite your address, the Pledge of Allegiance, and directions to make your favorite sandwich or other food at that slow pace? Keep making the verbal tasks harder, saying them at a “slow” pace.
Record yourself and listen to your progress. Ask someone for feedback on how clearly you are speaking.
If you are not making progress after doing this with daily practice for a month, do not have a neurological disorder that impacts your speech, and are not taking any medication that may cause rapid speech, you may benefit from professional speech coaching, by a corporate speech pathologist.
Another option is an e-book with specialized techniques; get someone else to listen to you and give feedback.
Speaking more slowly does not make a person sound stupid. It often makes them sound much clearer, more deliberate. In fact, people who slow their rate of speech often comment that they now have more time to think of the correct answer or the best word to use.
Speaking quickly can cause many problems. Today’s the day to start solving them!