Speak slowly -- I can't listen any faster!

Speak slowly -- I can't listen any faster!
Source: Reusableart.com

I keep thinking of the old, old joke about someone writing a letter: I'm writing this slowly because I know you can't read very fast.

How about the same consideration for listening? I'm speaking slowly because I know you can't listen any faster. That would work for me, as both a speaker and a listener.

So much has to be crammed into every advertisement -- legal warnings; medical warnings; warnings about finding warnings, perhaps -- that the real message can get lost. The more I hear that kind of message, the more I suspect that the speaker may want to obscure the message.

The more speakers I hear, on radio, in church and on the street, the more I think it's contagious. We're speaking too quickly in general.

I have done plenty of public speaking, from being a tour guide to being a lay liturgist (scripture reader) at church.

I've also had some trouble with my jaw over the years, from dental work to jaw pain. There's nothing quite like a sore jaw to make me think that I need to speak clearly so that I don't get asked to repeat myself. I should remember that more often.

I don't just want to be heard -- I want to be understood. And there's a limit to how much people can understand. It's a speed limit.

I break the speed limit sometimes, at least when it comes to speech. That's usually an indication of too much emotion getting involved, even too much eagerness to get my point across.

That's why I am editing my mental reminder, changing it gradually from a simple "Slow down!" to "Speak slowly, because they can't listen any faster."

When I need to get my point across most, I should speak the slowest. But what makes me laugh about that is that while I picture myself riding a brake during a speech or a reading, I don't get told to pick up the pace. But when I lose that mental picture of the brake, I can hit the gas pedal and soundlikethisalloneword. (For those who missed that, I'll type it in the standard way -- sound like this all one word.)

When people can apprehend what I'm saying -- when they can "catch" it -- they can understand, and I have them in the palm of my hand. They'll wait for the next word.

It's like notes vs. rests in music. Think of any piece you like, from "The Magic Flute" to the "Nutcracker" suite or (sigh) "We Are the Champions."

Too many notes (as the emperor tells Mozart in the movie "Amadeus") are too hard to understand. But the same number of notes will work well if you play them slowly and take your rests between them.

Listen to the voices you enjoy and listen to their pace. Then match it. Take your time, make your point, and your listeners will be there.

Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.


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  • Well said, Margaret, and good advice. Speed listening loses just as much as speed reading.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you, my friend. Indeed it does.

  • Speaking of ads and AW of speed reading, TV has certainly gone overboard I have a 4K 50" TV and still can't read the disclaimers. They must be paid by the word, as some of them seem to be 500 words, and I can't read that much in 10 seconds.

    An example the other day was that I made a web appointment with a flooring merchant on its website, and then passed its store and asked to see the samples, at which point they said "can't do, as we aren't owned by them." Turns out that the ad had in small print "sales services provided by independent contractors." I canceled the appointment.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, Jack, the idea of "get all the information on one screen" is doing no reader any favors. Clear communication is key, whether it's reading or speaking.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Take any ad for telecommunications services, for instance. The companies are trying not to communicate.

  • In reply to jack:

    Indeed, Jack. They seem to be showing how much data they can transmit, not how well they can be understood.

  • You are all making excellent points! It's been my experience that some people, women especially, speak very fast because they are afraid of being interrupted.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Aha! That is a good point in itself. But what about those who interrupt because they can't understand what's being said thisfast?

  • Pace or rate of speech is one of the 2 biggest offenders in speaking skills today. Most think they are not talking fast, but they are. Mumbling is a close second. Thanks for highlighting this ever growing problem for those of us who would really like to have a relaxing, stimulating conversation...we can understand. If you need to fix your speech problem, this link might be a help for you. Enjoy. https://yourvoiceprofessor.com/3-reasons-to-begin-now/

  • In reply to announce:

    Welcome, announce, and thank you for stopping by. I'm glad you did. A relaxing conversation is not one at break-neck pace... or should it be break-mouth pace? Hmm.

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