What is your natural rate of speech? Does it change depending on the situation?
In the studio, I observe some of the fastest speakers and the slowest. In general, our goal is to get the maximum intelligibility at a speed that sounds authentic to them. The reality is that often we must alter the rate of speech to amplify meaning and importance.
The following are some observations for you to consider.
- Most people I encounter speed through, or otherwise minimize their own introductions.
- A good number of people get faster if they are nervous.
- The slowest speakers are often trying to script their presentations as they do them — thinking it out in real-time.
- Some fast speakers are trying to “put on a good show” and can lose track of their goals in the moment.
- There are extremely effective speakers who can be considered really fast or really slow but they are also very intentional about pace.
When your goal is to improve your articulation assessing your rate of speech is an important step. If you speak on the extremes of speed you likely know already. Still, this is where recording yourself is going to help you understand what is happening.
Once you know where you stand, consider adding pacing to your presentation and important conversations prep. The bulk of your words can be fast. Things are more important or leading to an important point can be a little slower. Then, your most important thoughts should be slowest paced. There is a knack for getting this just right, so get some assistance or be very judicious with your recording self-reviews.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.