Leadership_Icon copyHave you ever been told that you talk too quickly? Have you ever noticed that your audience – an individual or a group – ‘glazes over’ because they can’t keep up with you?

Here are 5 Top Tips for slowing down and making a greater impact!


Seems obvious, I know. But you’d be surprised how many people appear to suspend ALL breath whilst speaking! When we are anxious, or excited, our breathing speeds up, which means that we start to breathe very rapidly in the top of our chests. The result of this is that we have nothing to feed the voice, it becomes rapid, sometimes ‘squeaky’, and sounding worryingly like Mickey Mouse!

Breaths then become snatched, in turn, ruining the natural rhythm of our speech.

The ‘Square Breath’ is an effective breathing exercise:

  • Breathe IN for 4 counts,
  • HOLD for 4 counts,
  • OUT for 4 counts
  • HOLD for 4 counts … and continue whilst imagining the pattern forming the sides of a square.

Remember Full Stops? It takes courage to really STOP at the end of a sentence, and take a breath. Speeding through is frequently driven by the belief that we have to offer all the data stored in our head lest we run out of time. This means that we gallop along at a fearful speed, leaving our listener limping behind us, wondering what they are going to have for supper. As an actor, I was trained to think, and speak right to the end of the thought. And then breathe again for the next thought.

Like this :

  • Take a breath
  • Speak your sentence, using that one breath
  • Stop at the end of the sentence
  • Take another breath.

Sounds simple? Hmmmm. Not for most of us. Watch Obama; he is a master at this. He gives his audience ONE thought, then he stops, waits for it to land (meanwhile taking that much-needed breath), and then continues with his next thought.

The effect of this is that not only does he have time to think, but, much more importantly, his audience have time to hear and connect with what he has to say.

Which leads neatly to tip 3.


This tip is always important but particularly so if you are presenting. Your job is to make your audience feel comfortable. Throughout, you need to be asking yourself: ‘Have they heard that?’ ‘Do I need to slow down?’ ‘Are they with me?’

Think about it this way. When you are with your friends in the pub, regaling them with your adventures, you are less likely to be rushing through your sentences, not looking at them and wishing they weren’t there… no, you LOOK at them, you NOTICE if they are enjoying your story, you SLOW DOWN to allow them to gather each crucial point.

It is no different when you are presenting; it’s a conversation that you are having with each individual. If you can make eye contact with one person at a time, you will SLOW DOWN. Let your sentence land with someone. Breathe. Pause. Speak to the next person.

By focusing on your audience, you take your attention away from yourself and you calm down, breathe more slowly, think more clearly and become far more interesting to listen to.


Time and time again, I watch (and listen) as people who stand up and present with a timid mouse-like voice, become lions when they allow themselves to BE LOUDER.

The act of being louder will slow you down. Using more voice means that you have to use more breath, which, as I have said, slows you down, enables you and your audience to think more clearly, and, best of all, they can HEAR you!!!

Being louder is probably the quickest and most effective way of slowing down.

In any case, when you are presenting, you absolutely must be louder than your normal conversational voice; it is a different medium, your audience MUST be able to hear you, otherwise they will be back to planning supper.


If you can ‘take your space’ in the room, you will be able to implement all of the steps above. What I mean by this is placing your feet hip distance apart, and feeling them on the floor, letting your shoulders relax, and letting your energy root down into the floor. (You can pretend to be a tree if it helps as we actors are always doing…..). Breath deeply and get a sense of being ‘solid’ on your ground. No rocking backwards and forwards, twisting into tortured positions, tapping or jigging your knees – all of which are taking your energy away from your thinking, breathing and speaking slowly.

One last tip (for free!):

If you have a small child available, take every opportunity to read out loud to them; it is the best way to practice all of the above; you have to be slow, clear, present, breathe, and most of all, if you don’t tell the story well, the child will wander off…. just like your adult audience would LIKE to do, but are far too polite to do so!!

Oh, a very final but important tip: if you don’t have a small child available, do ask the owners permission before acquiring one.