Why you should slow your pace in media interviews and presentations – and how to do it (2024)

If there’s one bit of feedback I have to give to participants more than any other in the media training and presentation training courses that I run, it’s to slow down.Adding examples, stories and anecdotes is probably the second most common piece of advice but up there at number one is not speaking too quickly.

So, I’d just like to reiterate why speaking slowly or at least not going too fast is important and then offer some advice on how to control your speed during media interviews and presentations.

Given that so many people do it and it’s widely accepted as just one of those things that happen when people do media interviews or presentations, what is wrong with speaking too quickly?

Speak too quickly and your points will be lost

The first and most obvious problem is that your audience fails to take on-board something that you are saying. In a press interview this could simply be that the journalist, however good his or her shorthand, cannot keep up with the person being interviewed. In order to qualify as a journalist it used to be necessary to attain a shorthand speed of about 100 words per minute. This sounds pretty impressive but don’t forget that we naturally speak quite a bit faster and when people get excited, passionate or nervous the speed increases even more.

Speak too quickly and the journalist will miss an important point that you’re making or will write down a fact or figure incorrectly as its spewed out along with less important information.If you’re doing an interview on radio or television your audience can again miss an important point or, if they do catch it, as they ponder it they’ve missed the next point that you’re making. So, speaking more slowly will ensure that your audience takes away and digests what you say. You’re also less likely to stumble over words or not to articulate them properly.

There are other disadvantages to speaking too quickly. For instance, it reduces your authority and gravitas.The fact is that higher status individuals speak more slowly. This, it is thought, is because they do not fear being interrupted and they’re usually in control of the timing of a meeting or conversation.

You're speaking faster than you can think

When people speak quickly they’re quite often going at a faster rate than they can think and that’s when those annoying “fillers” creep in.If you’re going like a train you’re more likely to include phrases such as “you know,” or “like,” or “I mean.” Not only do these irritate and distract audiences but they also reduce the status and authority of the speaker.

Speaking slowly also gives the impression – hopefully a correct impression – that you’re thinking about what you’re saying. Very often the criticism we hear during our media coaching sessions is that politicians and other interviewees do not appear to be listening to the question. Instead they’re simply waiting for a pause so that they can trot out their next key message.We recently trained a woman who was concerned that her pauses and slow pace made her sound indecisive. The opinion of our trainer, as well as her PR consultant and fellow participants was that, on the contrary, it simply meant that she came across as thoughtful, sincere and considered.

The right speed during media interviews

According to a study presented in 2011 to the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research by a team from the University of Michigan, a speed of about 3.5 words per second was considered ideal. This is approximately the speaking speed of most broadcasters, by the way.

So how can you learn to speak more slowly in media interviews and presentations? Well, it might sound obvious, but you can simply practice and rehearse in the same way that you would with the words and messages that you want to use.As we say in our media training sessions, it’s one thing to see your key messages and supporting examples written down as bullet points but it makes much more sense to then say them out loud. This will improve your “muscle memory” and ensure that you feel more comfortable speaking them. Practising talking at the right pace while you do this will help here.

How to stop speaking too quickly in presentations and media interviews

In some cases we’ll ask people to clap all their hands or tap their thigh as they say each word. Again this slows down the delivery.

Breathing properly is another small change that can help reduce your pace. If you breathe slowly and deeply right down to your abdomen during a media interview or presentation you’ll actually find it quite hard to speed up as you speak.The same is true if you add energy and a variation or “light and shade,” as we often call it, to your delivery.By doing these two things together you’ll find that your pace slows.

I find that actors’ techniques can help people to really use their voices and vocal delivery to the best effect.Voice warm ups such as relaxing the jaw, the lips and the face generally will help you open your mouth properly (don’t worry you won’t look like a mad thing) and enunciate the words correctly.All of this slows down the delivery.

Finally, speaking too quickly is often caused by nerves.Controlling your nerves and redirecting that energy so that instead of driving the speed of delivery it adds to the liveliness, resonance and conviction in your voice will also help slow the pace and improve your performance in media interviews, presentations – and in your general, daily business communications.

Why you should slow your pace in media interviews and presentations – and how to do it (2024)


Why you should slow your pace in media interviews and presentations – and how to do it? ›

So, speaking more slowly will ensure that your audience takes away and digests what you say. You're also less likely to stumble over words or not to articulate them properly. There are other disadvantages to speaking too quickly. For instance, it reduces your authority and gravitas.

Why is pacing important in a presentation? ›

Effective pacing can engage your audience by maintaining their interest and preventing boredom. Adjusting the tempo, pausing for emphasis, or varying speech patterns helps create a dynamic experience. Timing is crucial, too; it involves delivering information at the right moment for maximum impact.

How can you adjust your pace of speech during a presentation? ›

What are some techniques for varying your pace and tone during a presentation?
  1. Pause for effect.
  2. Change your pitch.
  3. Adjust your volume.
  4. Vary your speed.
  5. Experiment with tone.
  6. Practice and record.
  7. Here's what else to consider.
Nov 20, 2023

Why is pace important in communication? ›

The pace at which you speak is important when it comes to your audience's ability to understand what is being said. Additionally, you should vary your pace throughout in order to emphasis key moments in your information in your presentation.

What is a reasonable pace for presentation? ›

When it comes to public speaking, you'll want to talk at a conversational pace. This rate of speech typically ranges from around one hundred forty to one hundred seventy words per minute. If you speak much slower than one hundred forty words per minute, you're probably not speaking fast enough for your audience.

How does pacing affect communication? ›

Pacing is the speed and rhythm of your speech. It can affect how well your audience understands, remembers, and responds to your message. If you speak too fast, you may sound nervous, unclear, or impatient. If you speak too slow, you may sound boring, unconfident, or unprepared.

How does pace affect the audience? ›

It can influence how your audience feels and reacts to your presentation. A fast pace can convey excitement, urgency, or enthusiasm, but it can also make you sound nervous, rushed, or unclear. A slow pace can convey calmness, confidence, or seriousness, but it can also make you sound boring, dull, or uninterested.

How do you slow down your pace while speaking? ›

  1. Create your own mantra that you can repeat silently to yourself that reminds you to slow down. ...
  2. Walk slowly to the speaking location.
  3. Breathe slower.
  4. Put your hand on your heart to settle yourself down.
  5. Place your hand on an object.
  6. Look at the person first and connect emotionally before speaking.
Nov 2, 2022

How do I slow the pace of speech? ›

And if you constantly find yourself being told that you should slow down so that people can understand you, this post is for you.
  1. Tip #1: Be mindful of the rate at which you speak. ...
  2. Tip #2: Modulate your voice. ...
  3. Tip #3: Add variety to your rate of speech. ...
  4. Tip #4: Breathe. ...
  5. Tip #5: Pause. ...
  6. Tip #6: Practice.
Jun 2, 2022

Should one have a very slow pace while giving a presentation? ›

One should have a very slow pace while giving a presentation. Explanation: The statement is false. One should take one's time while giving a presentation, but at the same time, they shouldn't be too slow. A slow pace tends to break the attention of the audience and bore them out.

Why a slower pace of speaking feels more important? ›

A slower speech rate projects confidence, knowledge, and control, which is important in presentations and important conversations. Slow speech allows you to infuse more emotion and emphasis into your words, making your message more impactful.

What is pacing in a presentation? ›

Pace is the speed at which you speak. Like all aspects of vocal variety, it is best when it is varied. By speaking swiftly, you can indicate speed, urgency or danger. By speaking slowly, you can suggest tension, finality or fear. Slowness of pace can also indicate slowness of action.

What is the importance and benefits of pace and pacing? ›

Successful pacing will create a balance between your energy and activity levels, increase your confidence with exercise, maintain your motivation with activity, reduce pain and increase your endurance, both muscular and cardiovascular.

What is a good presentation speed? ›

Most experts say that people who are presenting should speak more slowly at 100 to 150 words per minute. But I believe, that unless you are talking about something highly technical or difficult you should speak quickly to keep the attention of your audience.

What is the best pace for public speaking? ›

What is the average speaking rate?
  • Presentations: between 100-150 wpm for a comfortable pace.
  • Conversational: between 120-150 wpm.
  • Audiobooks: between 150-160 wpm, which is the upper range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words.
  • Radio hosts and podcasters: between 150-160 wpm.
Nov 8, 2022

Why is pausing important? ›

Pausing gives them time to not only hear your point, but digest it, understand it, evaluate it, determine its relevance, and apply it. Without a pause, they're still doing that cognitive work while you're already onto your next point. This processing time also makes your points easier to recall.

What is pacing and why is it used? ›

Pacing corrects a slow heart rate by delivering controlled pulses to mimic a desired rhythm. Cardioversion is used to restore a fast and unstable heart rate to its normal beating rate through timed shock delivery.

What does pacing is important mean? ›

Pacing involves cutting up activity into manageable chunks and switching between physical, mental, social and emotional activities throughout the day. And all these activities should have periods of rest planned around them to keep your energy levels as high as possible, and make sure you don't become over‐tired.


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