Some things cannot be hurried – public speaking is one of them

Imagine yourself at a wine-tasting event, with six different reds (or whites, if you prefer) in front of you. The guide takes you through them at a leisurely pace, giving you time to appreciate each one and reflect on it, to distinguish it from the others and to remember which ones you liked best and why.

Now imagine yourself in the same situation but this time with a guide who pushes you along the row at high speed. Quick sniff, quick taste and on to the next one.

I think you’ll agree that the second case is not only frustrating but ultimately pointless: a wasted opportunity both to learn and to enjoy the experience.

The same applies when someone delivers a speech or presentation too fast. If you want people to follow, take in and remember what you’re telling them, do not rush it! The purpose here is not to get whatever it is you want to say off your chest, it’s to impart information you want your listeners to understand and retain, so give them a chance to do so.

I was at a conference over the weekend where the speakers at each session had five minutes to outline their ideas before the discussion was opened up to the floor. They knew this when they were planning what points they wanted to cover and yet I was amazed how few of them had given enough thought to how long it would take to articulate these points. The majority of speakers ended up missing out chunks of their introductions and/or saying the last bit so quickly that it made no impact.

For this reason (and for many others), when you’re preparing for public speaking, deciding what points you want to make is just the beginning. The only way to be sure of doing a good job on the day is to have rehearsed your talk out loud until it’s focused and concise and fits comfortably into the time you’ve been allocated.

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About Georgie

Coach and consultant in effective communication - public speaking, interviews & pitches, training, lecturing, meetings, debates & discussions. Motivational speaker
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