Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Most of us suspect we speak too fast. And many of us do, especially when we're feeling self-conscious. Some machine-gunners even tell me, 'I hate speaking, I just want to get it over with faster.' So first up, find out if you really are too fast - ask an honest colleague to watch you speak in front of a meeting.

Yes? Okay, lets get to a cure.

Speak in packets

Surprise, suprise, the cure is not to slow down. Trying to stretch out your words just sounds weird and will lead to offers of medication.

The cure is to speak in packets... in word bundles. Deliberately pause at the end of every natural phrase, comma and full stop. You'll need to test it out on a colleague first, or your inner don't-be-a-clown voice will stop you even trying it.

See for yourself how it works

Read out the following sentence without any pauses at all.

If we really want morale to improve then every person in this room will need to commit to the new protocol.

Now read it out again, with a pause of no more than one second at the end of each natural phrase.

If we really want morale to improve (small pause) then every person in this room (small pause) will need to commit to the new protocol.

Now try it with words of your own.

Why it's a great technique for you to use

It's one of those rare tips that is both simple in essence and easy to do. With very little practice, your impressed collegues will be telling you that it gives you more authority, it sounds natural, and it's much easier to understand you.

Here's a bonus.

Do you have an accent? Does the audience have difficulty understanding you? It's exactly the same cure. I'll talk more about that another time.

Have fun packet-speaking.

Oh, one more point. Got a large audience? Increase the length of the pauses between the packets.


About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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