How to slow down if you speak too fast


No space between the words!  How does it feel to read that? Exhausting? This is exactly how you sound when you speak too fast.

Remember John Moschitta – the Motormouth guy from the FedEx ad?

With words rocketing from his mouth- left, right & center, the listeners are left with no choice but to give up.

Though this example is an extreme form of speed talk, many of us do speak at a rate that is too strenuous for our listeners to comprehend.

You speak fast – you set off a range of interpretations

Supported by other clues like body language and facial expressions, a high Rate Of Speech (ROS) could give out your raw emotions, oftentimes conflicting with what you aim to convey.

Your fast-talking, many a time, can signal urgency or excitement. It might portray that you have many ideas to share and want to get them all out quickly.

On the other hand, with that fast a speech, you could also come across as someone experiencing anxiety or fear.

In either case, comprehending what you are saying, becomes a challenge for your listeners. And so, more often than not, they tune out.

When you speak fast, it seriously reduces your intelligibility- especially with nonnative speakers of your language.

If you habitually speak fast, it is about time, you learn to adjust your ROS to meet the need of your listeners.

Have a look at the table below to understand the appropriate Rate Of Speech for a different set of audiences.

Presentations » 100 –150 wpm

Conversation » 120 –150 wpm

Audio-books  » 150 –160 wpm

Radio, podcasts » 150 –160 wpm

Auctions » About 250 wpm

Commentary » 250 – 400 wpm             

*[wpm= words per minute]

If you want to be perceived as someone who is well-spoken, it is important that you use audience-appropriate ROS.

To begin with – How can you tell if you are speaking too fast?

Time yourself

  • Pick a paragraph with op-ed content.
  • Count the number of words and put a mark after the 120th word. 
  • Start reading aloud.
  • Time yourself. You should be able to finish this reading exercise comfortably in one minute.

If you still have some time to spare once you finish the paragraph, that will mean you need to slow down.

Here are some rate control exercises that you can practice for slowing down your speech.

  1. Stretch your words

And what do you stretch in a word? While you are practicing reading aloud, pay attention to the vowel sounds in words.

Open your mouth enough, elongate the vowel sounds giving them a deliberate stretch. 

Example- Enable, Disable 


This extra stretching of vowel sounds during practicing will automatically shrink and adjust to the right length when you talk regular.

  1. Rearrange your pauses

Understand the important points of your content and give a smooth 2-second pause before reading out those words. Doing this may not necessarily affect how quickly you read the words, but it does give the impression that you are talking slow. This may help meet the objective of speech clarity.

Example- There is nothing as attention-grabbing, as a ….pause.

  1. Intonate free hand

Mastering the art of intonation will also balance out and trim your speech speed. Pitch up for important parts of the sentences and rhythm down for support words.

Example- “But while I may be the first ↑ woman in this office, I will not be the last ↑. – Kamala Harris

  1. Read factual reports

Read as if you are doing this for an audience. Since this involves reading a lot of data-based information, you are bound to slow down. This will further your objective of speaking slowly.

Try reading the following excerpt (Global Warming of 1.5 ºC — (

This chapter assesses mitigation pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In doing so, it explores the following key questions: What role do CO2 and non-CO2 emissions play? {2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6} To what extent do 1.5°C pathways involve overshooting and returning below 1.5°C during the 21st century? {2.2, 2.3} What are the implications for transitions in energy, land use, and sustainable development? {2.3, 2.4, 2.5} How do policy frameworks affect the ability to limit warming to 1.5°C? {2.3, 2.5} What are the associated knowledge gaps? {2.6}

Practice regularly and internalize the habit of speaking slowly in your day-to-day interactions. Doing so while being monitored by a learning partner helps. You can also record your speech and listen to it and alter it further as need be.

Remember that altering your rate of speech is possible, however, it does require mindfulness and a whole lot of serious effort!

This Post Has 2 Comments

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