Clock showing the slow pace of a speaker

8 Ways To Help You Stop Being A Slow Talker

Talking slowly brings out mixed reactions from people. Some people find it appealing, some offensive and others are in the grey area of being interested in the topic and content but are unable to keep their eyes open. 

Slow talkers face a lot of backlash and embarrassment and this may lead to them being forced to cut-off from society and a lot of other psychological and identity disorders. BUT!! We really hope that you aren’t one of them and this article might just be your first step in building your speaking skills!

(If you do need help for psychological disorders or other ailments, please approach a certified expert in the field.)

The average speaking rate of an individual is usually 120-140 words per minute. If you are a slow speaker, there are various exercises and practices you can follow while writing and reciting your speech to hit that perfect balance in speech and clarity.


If you are a fast talker, we’ve got you covered as well! Check out our article 7 Ninja Hacks for Fast Talkers to Slow Down to build and work on your speaking skills!

Before we begin giving you tips and tricks on how to speed up, let’s find out a plausible reason for you being a slow speaker. 

Why should I learn to talk fast?

Post It asking why should a person learn to speak faster.

Well, apart from the added benefit of sounding “cool” (not my opinion, this is just another stereotype) Talking fast indicates and radiates confidence even if your knees are trembling harder than than a 8.9 Earthquake. It also has the below benefits:

  1. Shows that you know the topic.
  2. Keeps the audience hooked.
  3. Helps when you are trying to be persuasive.
  4. Depicts your quick thinking skills.

Why you might be a Slow Talker. 

1. Speaking and Speeches

First step to figure out why you may be a slow speaker is to figure out if your conversational speech is slow as well. Some people maintain a normal pace in their day-to-day conversations but slow down when they are delivering a speech. It will be easier for you to build your speed if you fall under this category. 

Don’t fret if you speak slowly in general conversations as well, we’ve got you covered!

2. Nervousness

Young girl who is nervous for a delivery

Our worst nightmare and most familiar enemy. Even though being a little nervous is socially acceptable and is even encouraged, (It is believed that being a little nervous shows that you care.)

Sometimes, nervousness can leave you tongue-tied. Sweaty palms and a dry mouth aren’t the best combination for a clear and engaging speech now, are they? 

3. Pauses 

Image showing the word and symbol pause to highlight the importance of pauses in public speaking

Timing your pauses is as imperative as speaking at the right speed. A longer pause or one which is too short distracts the audience from your speech. 

The perfect pause is for a duration of 2-3 seconds, except when you use pauses intentionally to let information sink in or the audience process the information or simply for dramatic effect. 

4. Phrasing and Structure of the Speech

Sometimes, when people write their speech, they tend to forget that it is going to be spoken and it ends up being a big dump of data or information and then becomes difficult for the speaker to maintain a smooth and consistent flow in their speech.

If you want to learn more about how to structure your speech better, we’ve worked on an article for the same! You can find the link here: Structuring a Speech Right: 7 Simple Tips.

We will be talking more about phrasing in the next segment of this article. 

5. Beating around the bush

We often tend to beat around the bush when we are fumbling for an answer and very few people can pull it off. When you do this, you tend to use more words than necessary or expected, this makes your speech too wordy, and unconsciously you begin speaking slowly to give yourself time to process your thoughts. The best way around this is to take your time with an answer, a well articulated point will ensure a quick, smooth, direct and clear delivery. 

6. New Language

Man looking at a board with various languages which he may be learning and not able to speak fast in.

If you are learning a new language, for example: English, you are bound to speak slower in the initial stages. The only thing you can do is first build your skills and fluency in that language and then build your speaking skills from there. You can also refer to reliable sites and blogs like this to work on developing and growing in your chosen language. 

Now that you might have a fair idea of the possible reasons for you to slow speech, let’s work on making that faster, clearer and smoother. 

How to increase your pace:

1. Use Speak-able Language 

Message icons showing three dots which indicate simplicity in speaking.

Remember when we spoke about phrasing your speech appropriately earlier? Let’s elaborate on that. 

Whenever we write a speech, we need to make sure that the language and the words we write are practically -speak-able. 

What do we mean by speak-able?

Example:

1. It is a complex compilation of complicated combinations of colours

2. It is a very webbed selection of complex blends of colours.

Which sentence would you prefer saying?

Here is why I would suggest the second sentence.

1. It doesn’t have the same syllable sound again and again, which is a major plus point, because even though it may sound beautiful to some, in the middle of your speech, when your mind is racing and you’ve already forgotten the rest of your speech, these type of sentences are often very risky and difficult to pull off. 

It can lead to stammering, mixing up words or if you are already nervous, this is what might send your brain over the edge and it may simply click Alt+Del, leaving you dumbfounded on stage with a blank expression with multiple blank faces staring up at you. Pretty scary right? This is why I would suggest the second sentence. 

2. Another reason is that most people do not fancy complicated words, and if your audience is diverse, simple and direct language with a clear and crisp delivery is what will work best for you. 

2. Focus on Clarity

Image showing one messy mind being able to communicate its thoughts with clarity to a different person.

Some people speak slowly to make sure that they pronounce every single word to perfection. However important pronunciation may be, it should not be a factor for your slow speech. On of the best ways to work on your speed is to gain confidence about your pronunciation.

Pro Tip: A fun and hilarious way to work on clarity is to use a pencil. How?

Keep it horizontally between your teeth and try to read a magazine as clearly as possible. What does this do?

It helps your tongue get accustomed to various movements and you will find it easier to speak once you remove the pencil! (and laugh).

3. Avoid Filler Words

Firstly, what are filler words?

Words like Ah, Umm, And, So, Uh, Then, Mmm, But and so many others when used in places they aren’t necessary – to “fill the gaps” while your brain buffers. What these also do is trick your brain into thinking you have more time and you begin to speak slowly.

The most effective way to avoid this is to work on your speech again and again, make pointers and remember what comes after what. This is your speech and no one knows is better than you. Instead of memorising it, understand it and remember the flow of your speech for a more structured delivery.

While you’re doing the above, also focus on your crutch / filler words. Make sure that there aren’t any in your speech.

One thing, I need you to understand is that if you use around 30 fillers in your speech, you are mostly likely to NOT get to zero by your next speech. It is a gradual process and working on your content and monitoring your progress will get you there!

Pro Tip: The most effective way to monitor your progress is to record yourself and count the number of fillers, or ask a friend to do that while you deliver your speech.

Want more tips on how to reduce filler word usage? Here’s a quick video we have made that will help you avoid filler word:

4. Body Language

Using Body Language is a fool proof method of increasing your pace. Confused?

Here is how you do that:

Body Language, i.e. gestures, expressions, movement, eye-contact, etc,. are a great way to pace yourself properly and effectively.

In a segment where you need to speak faster, you can have movements and gestures that are fast paced or big to remind your brain to speak faster. You can also move around your stage as you move from one segment to another.

By practicing this you will begin to consciously judge when you haven’t moved in a long time and take that as a cue to pick up the pace.

5. Time Yourself

Man checking the time to learn how to speak faster.

This is one of the most preached and suggested hacks to speak faster is to time yourself. The main key is practice and starting small.

If you feel you are an extremely slow speaker, start with a sentence, and try saying that within a minutes. It will not come immediately so progress in steps.

Take a sentence. For example: The plastic tip of a shoe-lace is called an Aglet.
Start with your limit being one minute, and progressively increase your speed down to 40 seconds, 30 seconds, 20, seconds, 10, 15 and finally 5-6 seconds. WITHOUT sacrificing on the meaning and clarity of the word.

You can also try this with paragraphs and time yourself accordingly.

Pro Tip: Start with shorter paragraphs which a average speaker can complete within a minute as they will help you with your speed.

Once you have done that, you can move on to larger paragraphs and even stories, articles, etc,. to work on your voice modulation and clarity along with your speed.

6. Warm Up

Dry mouth, hoarse and dry throat, etc,. will make it difficult for you to speak. These usually happen when a person has not spoken for a long time. You may also loose the freshness in your mouth and may even have stale breath. A quick way to work your vocal chords and mouth for a quick and awesome speech is by warming it up.

How do you warm up for a speech? You can’t run around and be all sweaty and out of breath. Here is how:

  1. Drink water – Hydrate yourself – VERY IMPORTANT.
  2. Stretch.
  3. Breathe.
  4. Begin with Humming, get your vocal chords moving.
  5. Move on to saying the word “WOW” as a siren.
  6. Use the word “Oh” in different tones and pitches.
  7. There are many other vocal warm up exercises on the internet, try to them out. DO NOT over exert yourself, know your limits and figure out what works best for you.

7. Record Yourself

This is another one of those practices that has been tried and tested and recommended by many. But, instead of just recording your voice, I suggest record yourself as well.
Why?

Well, for one thing, it will help you gauge your pace in relation to all the other factors like body language, voice modulation, expressions, etc., that you need to keep in mind when delivering a speech.

Another benefit would be that you will be able to gauge by your expressions, the points where you are struggling with your pace and would be able to direct more focus and practice towards those segments.

8. Tongue Twisters

Last, but definitely not the least and the most fun – Tongue Twisters!

How they help?

They are the best example for speed, pronunciation and clarity. They will help you enunciate your words better and faster, and build your speed.

I would suggest that you move from short tongue twisters to longer ones to be able to build gradually.

For example:

Moving from:

Betty bought some butter,

the butter was bitter,

so Betty bought some better butter,

to make the bitter butter better.

To:

If a Woodchuck could chuck wood,

How much wood would a Woodchuck chuck,

if a Woodchuck could chuck wood.

A Woodchuck would chuck as much wood,

as a Woodchuck chuck,

if a Woodchuck could chuck wood.

Here are other examples of Tongue Twisters for you to practise with:

Jack the jailbird jacked a jeep.

She sells sea shells on the sea shore

Through three cheese trees, three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew, a freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made these trees’ cheese freeze.
That’s what made these three free fleas sneeze.

“Surely Sylvia swims!” shrieked Sammy surprised. “Someone should show Sylvia some strokes so she shall not sink.

The sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

Conclusion

Fast speakers may have a larger advantage at grabbing the audience’s attention, but it is imperative to know that there may be times when speaking slower may get the job done more effectively. Use all the Public Speaking tools available to you and deliver a killer speech.

It is important to remember that learning to speak fast is a slow process for many and it takes patience and practice to build and grow. Take your time and focus on consistency. Good luck!

Hrideep Barot is the founder and chief writer at Frantically Speaking, a portal to help people learn everything about public speaking. The purpose of franticallyspeaking.com is to showcase the lessons that he has learned (and still learning) from his numerous stage experiences and mentors over all these years.

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