Marilyn who had been a lawyer with an East Coast Insurance Firm was now living and practicing law near a major city in Texas. This is a big city she thought and so they will appreciate my skills in the court room and she went right out and landed one of the best jobs in the best law firms in town. The next thing she heard, while giving a brief in front of a male judge who had a heavy Texas accent was “ I’m sorry little lady, you gotta slow down if you expect me and the jury to understand you”.
Number one, Marilyn was shocked to be called little lady and two she was shocked that her fast talking, which had been prized in the East Coast insurance world, was now being ridiculed in front of the entire court room.
I was so shocked, she told me, that I checked in with the head of my law firm, thinking that this particular judge had a bias against woman lawyers from back East. And my boss told me, “Go get help with your speech” so that the judges will feel more comfortable while you speaking in court on behalf of you clients.
I told Marilyn, yes; maybe the judge had a bias against woman lawyers from back East. Who knows! However I suggest that you can level the playing field by slowing down and speaking clearly. Fast talking or data dumping is one of the most prevalent bad speech habits today and it can stop your career. After all, the name data dumping implies that you are saying all the relevant information on a particular subject as fast as possible with little regard for your listener and whether he/she understands you.
Marilyn, I know that fast talkers like yourself don’t think of it that way however, people can have all sorts of biases around fast talking. For example you can be perceived as trying to double talk a point in order to confuse the situation, or that you are insecure and have a lot of anxiety, or worse yet that you don’t know what you are talking about and don’t want people to know it. It may be that in his own way the judge was trying to keep you from being perceived in any of these ways. Who knows!
In any case the slowing of your speaking rate will level the playing field, enhance your communication and help you build many long lasting and effective relationships. Speaking at a normal rate of 120 to 160 words per minute, allows people not only to understand your message but also to react positively to the non-verbal messages in your voice that powerfully influence and persuade others to your point of view.
Marilyn had never thought of fast taking in this way and immediately stepped up to the challenge. She slowed her speech, and the positive results in her communication combined with her enormous legal talent opened many doors for to advance in her career.
A confident, powerful and persuasive speaker always wants the listener to fully comprehend his/her message. Please use Marilyn’s story as a benchmark, to assess your own speaking rate.
Sandra offers a 25-minute Voice Power Studios Accent Reduction & Speaking Skills Consultation, http://www.voicepowerstudios.com/analysis.html or call 877-783-2455.