When you are speaking, your speed matters. Do you speak too fast? Too Slow? Most people don’t realize how much speed matters when speaking.
Do you talk too fast? Many of you do, and many of you talk too fast at times that it is critical for other people to really be able to hear and understand your message. Now the first step in this process of adjusting your speaking rate is to figure out what it is. I would suggest do a recording of you speaking in a normal business setting, in a project meeting, a business meeting of some sort. Have that audio transcribed. In Microsoft Word you can take a look at the transcription and figure out how many words you typically speak per minute. That gives you your baseline rate.
Then ask the people around you: Do I talk too fast? Some of them will say yes. Ask a follow up question: Do I talk too fast? Some of them will say yes. There are two situations where people typically talk way too fast.
First of all, technology professionals. People involved in technical fields are usually very passionate about their information. They know their information incredibly well, and they’re excited to be able to share it so they talk way too fast, not realizing that the other people who aren’t as familiar with the technology can’t interpret it that fast.
The other situation where a high rate of speed is really problematic is for those of you who have English as a second language. Many non-English languages have a very high rate of speech, a lot of words per minute. When you’re used to that and you move over into English, many of you try to use that same rate of speaking. However, that high rate of speaking, which in many cases is quite a bit higher than it would be normally in English, combined with any accent that you carry with the English language, can make it very, very difficult for people to understand exactly what you’re saying.
As a general rule of thumb, for technology professionals and for people who have English as a second language, take your normal rate of speech and cut it in half.
When you cut your speaking rate in half it’s going to feel incredibly weird to you. It’s going to feel very, very slow. But when you record it and listen to it it’s going to sound fine, and when you ask the people around you if you’re speaking too fast, they’ll say “No, sounded good.” Ask them “Am I speaking too slow?” I’ll bet they say “No, it was just right. I was able to understand.”
Speaking slowly gives people the time to hear and interpret the technology information you’re sharing with them, and it helps you overcome any accents that you may have because English is your second language. Get yourself recorded. Figure out your rate of speech. Cut it in half and see how that affects your success.