We all suffer many of the same ailments when it comes to how we appear on stage. New clients come to me breathlessly listing their insecurities:
“I get lost and go blank.”
“I’m so monotone.”
“I’ve been told I could be more dynamic.”
“I get lost in the weeds.”
“I speak too fast.”
Let’s focus on that last point today. Speed has lots of dimensions. Sometimes, yes, you speak too fast and end up babbling because you let your talking get away from you. Then you’re lost and go blank and your energy drops and your voice ends up going monotone. See how the two problems can be connected?
Back to speed. There’s a huge difference between going slowly and taking your time. Mostly, I want you, dear client, to take…your…time. When it’s time to speak, yes, you might speak quickly. That’s okay if you’re on topic, authentically energetic and connected to the audience. So let go of talking too fast as the problem, and instead look at taking your time.
What are we doing when we take our time? We’re not speaking until we’re ready. We’re pausing between ideas or sections and gathering our thoughts. We’re playing high status by making the room wait a beat. We’re creating anticipation. And, most importantly, we’re planning where we’re going.
This is especially key in a fireside chat format or in a Q&A session. Although it looks like the interviewer is in control of the conversations, you can be, too. When we get that question, we take our time in planning our answers and laying out a few ideas that influence where our interviewer goes next. We seed the conversation with a menu of options and ideas for our interviewer or audience to choose from.
You can take control over what happens next, by recognizing your influence over it and staying on the offensive. You might deliver your ideas with a quick pace, you might speak with some speed, but you took your time in preparing for those ideas. When you do this, you can remain on topic, speak dynamically, influence what happens next and stay out of the rambling, wandering and overly specific details that aren’t what you’re story is about.