Why is slowing down such a good thing for most nervous presenters? Well, there are several reasons and our top 3 are:
It allows time for the audience to ponder what you are saying, digest it and apply your message to their situation.
This is my favourite app and works well with practice paragraphs to read out loud and you can even add in your own text. Check out my demo video of this app in action.
1. Set the app to the pace you want – conversational speech generally is 120 to 200 wpm in the fast range.
2. I recommend you set it to 120 words per minute (which will allow for a little speeding up when you are in front of a live audience).
3. I also suggest clients use the “bouncing ball” to pace the sentences, with the sound off. Rather than follow the ball precisely just aim to be at the pause or end of the sentence at a similar time to the ball. This means you’ll practise more natural speech in your sentences rather than sounding jarred.
4. If you want to practise for a specific speech, you can cut and paste your words into the app and practise that. Great as long as you don’t try to memorise a script (something we discourage see point 7 in the 9 most common business presentation mistakes blog!)
5. Practise every day for 5 mins, ideally in the morning and that will set you up for a good pace all day.
Some people video their presentations and watch them back. This is a good idea if you are already quite confident but sometimes not a good idea if you are nervous. It can highlight other things that are ‘wrong’ like fidgeting or pacing about and that might make you more worried. For nervous presenters, initially focus on slowing down and breathing correctly and the other bad habits will decrease alongside that too, for more information on tackling your public speaking nerves see our blog on “Tips for reducing nerves before a presentation”. A better idea is to use a voice-only recorder – see below.
Using any voice recording app you can record yourself as you present and listen back to your recording. When you listen back imagine being a member of the audience and imagine it being the first time you have heard this information, does it feel like the right pace? Ask a buddy for feedback – preferably one who speaks more slowly than you!
Many metronome apps are available, here’s how you could use them:
1. Ask a buddy to help
2. Start ‘presenting’ and ask your buddy to set the metronome to the pace at which you are speaking
3. Slow the metronome pace by 25% and practice talking to that slower pace. (Some people need to slow down to almost half their nervous speaking speed!)
4. Ask your buddy for feedback on the speed and which speed is most appropriate/easier to understand
5. Remember you might come across as a little awkward when you initially slow down, so don’t let that put you off – you will become more natural sounding with practice.
However you practice slowing down when you speak, you’ll find the benefits will come back at you tenfold. You can find more information on improving your voice within our “How to stop your voice and hands shaking during public speaking” blog. But sometimes just fixing things at the surface level isn’t enough. You know you should slow down; you try the apps, but they just don’t work for you. You are still rushing through your presentation. In that case, you may need to come and join us on one or more of our public speaking courses to learn how to breathe correctly that will help you slow down and/or get underneath the real issue causing you to speak too quickly and tackle that “Public Speaking Monkey” once and for all.