Speaking: How Fast Talkers can Slow their Speech for Greater Positive Impact-Part 2 (Punctuation)
One technique (including breathing techniques) that fast talkers (as well as speakers of English as a second language) can use to slow their speech for greater positive impact on their audiences consists of visualizing punctuation. When some people get nervous speaking, they have a tendency to speak faster. If you are one of them, you’re definitely not alone. In addition to breathing techniques, one technique consists of pausing at thought groups.
A thought group is a a group of words which go together to express a thought or idea. Thought groups give you natural places to pause, and take a breath. We group words into thoughts. Thought groups break speech into smaller chunks.
Punctuation and Thought Groups
Written or printed thoughts contain punctuation. When you are formulating your own thoughts as you speak, you don’t use punctuation. However, you can picture in your head commas and periods along with the words you’re speaking. Think of replacing the commas and periods with pauses, in order to slow your speech down. It might take practice to begin doing this in real time as you’re speaking. Interestingly enough, the very act of visualizing commas, periods, exclamation marks, and question marks while your words are flowing when you’re speaking, can function to slow your speech down.
Key Point: Replace punctuation with pauses to slow your speech down.
Example: Pretend you were speaking this sentence. “After I heard this news, I was confused, excited, and apprehensive all at the same time.” Pause at the locations of the commas.
Practice Tip: If you have difficulty visualizing the punctuation in your mind while speaking, read aloud and pause at the punctuation marks. Next, without a communication partner-without a listener, practice expressing your thoughts out loud while visualizing the punctuation in your mind. Lastly, visualize the punctuation as you speak to another person.
To slow your rate of speech using thought groups, visualize punctuation while you speak. Pause where you see the punctuation. Enacting this in real time at the same time as you are formulating your thoughts as you speak to others can be difficult when you’re just beginning. As first step, on your own, try reading aloud and pausing at the punctuation marks. Then speak your own novel thoughts out loud by yourself without a communication partner.
Next, pick one situation or communication partner per day for implementing your “real time” practice. With this one situation or communication partner, visualize the punctuation as you express your thoughts. Do this for one minute per day. Begin extending the length of time you do this. Your newly learned methods will generalize into new habits which will become old habits.
To your punctuation visualizing as you speak slower for positive impact,