Speed, Your Biggest Enemy During Presentations

An issue we see with many of my students the speed at which they desire to speak English. Many of you speak way to fast and it causes you to stumble and/or you simply lose articulation. And this causes problems when you are giving, for example, a presentation for work. It can also be complicated after a round of golf, tired. And let's not mention a telephone conversation, when there is no non-verbal communication.

Reasons of Speaking Quickly

Honestly, it is easily understood why English is spoken so fast by Spanish speakers. Spanish, as a language, has a high rate of syllables per second. This is why it sounds as if the language is spoken at high speed and, out of custom, they want to do it with English as well. The table below shows the number of syllables per second in multiple languages.

Velocidad hablar

What is also reveals is the volume of information per second of those same languages. And there we can see that English and Spanish actually transmit the same quantity of information in the same time. This means that, when speaking, sentences with similar meanings will take the same time to be pronounced, despite the difference in syllable count.

Taking this into account, we have a reason to speak English a bit slower than we are possibly used to.

Consequences of High Speed

So, we understand the reasons behind your enormous velocity. But, what what is the result?

Multiple studies have shown that, when we want to go too speedily, we transmit nervousness and insecurity. This causes bad impressions with our listeners.

Moreover, we run the risk of losing our breath, turning into the swallowing of key words of he speech. Our listeners will not understand what we say, meaning, not only ourselves but also our chat.

If only they would let us know. Unfortunately, out of 'politeness', most don't.


Before I share some concrete solutions, please allow me to share an example of what happened to me. When I came to Spain, I didn't understand anyone or anything on TV. I wasn't used to listening to the language. Until at some point, I noticed that I started understanding the then president Mariano Rajoy. I became aware of what he said, turning him into the first Spanish person I understood on TV.

Why? Well, politicians apply speaking techniques that are key to them.

Speak with pauses. When you write, you use commas and full-stops. Not only for gramatical reasons, also to give the reader the opportunity the time to assimilate what they have read. So, if we do it in text, why not do it in speeches? The effect is the same. And let's be realistic here, a comma or a full-stop is nothing more than breathing space. So, take reliefs between sentences and even in the middle of them. Be careful and vary the length, you can create paused of half a second but also two.

What matters most is getting used to applying this point always. Customs are clichés, nonetheless, can give advantageous results. The habit makes the animal, we say in English. Changing your way of speaking in these situations create a manner of speaking, and this will make it easier or you to always speak like this.

Another recommendation, especially for presentations, practice with someone (who knows how to give a presentation). Through and with this person, you can receive feedback and directly change your way of speaking.

Lastly, let me remind you of the earlier explanation. Realizing Spanish is spoken much faster than English can create a relief.

Bring it Together

I hope this helped you a little bit.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. and that is why:

Don’t forget to practice

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