Speaking Freely: Public Speaking – How to Speak at a Pace People Can Follow

There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.”  – Alexander Gregg

When you are called on to speak publicly, your job is to relate to your audience.  Maybe you have a particular experience that people would benefit from or perhaps you have a certain expertise that needs to be shared. Whatever the reason for public speaking, there you are, sharing your thoughts in front of a group.  Do you often find yourself either sailing through it as though you were in a contest to finish the speech in seconds or “hemming” and “hawing” at such a slow pace that it feels as though you will never get finished?  Both scenarios leave your audience feeling disconnected and even worse, having lost their chance to gain anything from your presentation.

You can experience a perfect rate of speech when you stay totally connected with your listeners.  As long as you are connected with people when you speak with them, you feel calm and in the flow. Connect to listeners by tracking their response.  As you speak, pay attention to see your message landing on your listeners.  If you tune into your listeners this way, you will also be able to sense the pace that you need to speak.  The wonderful thing about this perfect speed is that you never feel anxious because you don’t disconnect. 

Here are some tips on keeping the connection and pacing the flow of information to your audience:

1. Don’t expect yourself to hold a whole talk in your mind. That is too much to ask of yourself.  It is impossible to contain the whole talk in your head; and trying to do so distracts you from the moment. Learn to experience and share one thought at a time, trusting yourself to think the next thought in the next moment. 

2.  When you are presenting ideas, try to create the “white space” of silence around your information.  White space is silence that allows your listeners time to absorb what you have said.  It also gives you time to think about what the next thought will be.

3.  Talk with the audience one person at a  time. Have a one-to-one conversation with one persona at a time. This way you are always in connection with one person, so always having a genuine conversation.

4.  Connect to the audience by revealing something real about yourself.  Tell them how you really feel to be there.  If you are nervous, say you’re nervous.  If you feel at home, tell them so.  Find a way to share your present-time experience that is appropriate and does not make a big deal of it. When you connect authentically, you feel safer to slow down.

5.  Don’t be concerned about whether the audience likes you or not. There is no power in that as you can’t control them.  You can only accept them and share yourself with them. Choose, instead to like them. The only real power you have is to choose to love the audience. When you love your audience, you don’t feel anxious and so you don’t rush.

If you tune into your listeners, you will be able to sense the pace that you need to speak and they will tune into you! Next time you speak in a group or meeting, try one of my suggestions and let me know the results. 

If you would like some help with learning to speak in groups, meetings and presentations, please visit my webpage on Group Speaking. My Fast-Track Public Speaking Course can help you transform the way you feel about speaking  and allow you to shine when you speak in group settings.