Have you ever found yourself speaking English and you constantly felt like you stumbled over your own tongue as the words were coming out of your mouth, were you speaking fast?
The amount of students I have asked to please slow down when they speak, is staggering (large). It may be close to 50% of my students to whom I’ve mentioned this. It is common to hear them speaking so quickly and then not able to say what it is they want to say well, just because they get lost in their own mess.
Today I would like to explore the topic a little bit.
For many of my students, I believe that the basis of the speed of speaking lies in the fact that Spanish is a language that is spoken quickly. Study shows that Spanish is actually one of the fastest languages, the highest number of syllables per second.
I notice this myself, when I switch to Spanish, the rate at which sounds leave my mouth skyrocket. It’s sometimes unbelievable the amount of things I think I can say in the language.
«Spanish is one of the fastest languages»
That means that you as a Spanish native, learning English, are also used to this higher speed. And what you are used to, you continue doing. So, it’s very possible you also speak waaay too rapidly.
Naturally, it is possible you are just seriously nervous. If nervous, we tend to speed up because we want to relay as much information as possible. But also, our brain think time is passing slowly and thus, we will speak faster to compensate for this feeling.
Why You Should Speak Slower
There are multiple reasons you need to speak slower. In my opinion, thy can be divided into three categories:
People’s impression of you
You look more intelligent
It is not the first time I mention this on my blog, being understood is the most important and I want you to be understood.
Why will they who listen to you have problems with this? Because you might start swallowing sounds, letters etc. The result is that they will not get the complete message you want to transmit. This actually happens to me as well. I love speaking fast and then, because I only say half the words, nobody gets what it is I want to tell them.
Then, when speaking too fast, you might start to mumble. Similar to the point above, the swallowing of sounds. Mumbling causes loss of articulation and therefore, loss of meaning.
Keep in mind, you need to be understood!
Another issue, when people are not able to get the complete message, they will stop paying attention. And when you lose the attention of your audience, people become less interested in your story, which affects their impression of you. Speaking at a high pace, might make you look like a salesperson and more often than not, we don’t like salespeople.
Part of the concept I explain above, people’s impression of you is my last point in this part. Studies have shown that, when you speak at a lower pace, you are perceived as more intelligent. Because people have more time to listen and evaluate your arguments, they have more time to agree with you. Whereas, if you speak fast, they cannot think, they need all the time they have to keep up with you.
How to Slow Down
First thing is to try and calm down. The possible nerves are not going away by actually thinking about them. Find some tricks to relax before you need to speak and you will be able to slow down a somewhat.
Think about your audience as well. You want them to understand you. So, if, before speaking, you think about them, you might remember to speak slowly.
Pause! Thissenteneisnoteasytoread! Right? Think about comma’s and full stops. Breathe every once in a while.
Both point above are easy to say, but hard to do. What is it you need to do? The same as always, which is practice. If you have the chance, write down what it is you want to say and use extra spaces or the “/” symbol where you want to pause.
That means / you text should look something like this. / It also means / you need to test how this works / for you!
A great way to practice? I have me students read out loud in class for example. So, maybe you can do that with someone else. Take a text and read it out loud for someone. Either your kids or your friends, I don’t mind. If they don’t know what you are saying? You are speaking too fast.
Bring It Together
Having a good pace of speaking is really important, especially if you want people to understand you. So, you need to think about the people who listen to you and if they know what you are saying. And the best way of doing that is by practicing.