Speaking Too Fast can Kill a Good Speech. It seems like a bit of common sense, but it’s a hard habit to break, even for highly paid professional speakers.
And it’s a very detremintal habit.
Last week I attended a Smart Meetings conference held at the Ritz Carlton, Dana Point, created for people who plan meetings. Since my company holds about 60 CLE seminars a year, I decided to finally attend one and see if I could get some new ideas. It was a terrific conference, by the way. One of the most organized conferences I have ever attended and the Ritz Carlton managed it so impressively, I am considering holding a long-weekend destination CLE event there in 2012 or 2013.
But back to the topic.
The keynote speaker was Peter Vidmar. Peter was part of the amazing men’s gymnastics team that won the first ever team gold medal at the Olympics in 1984. He also won a couple of individual event medals as well. The stories he tells from this time are simply captivating.
Now, here’s an incredibly fit, handsome man, with some great stories to tell us.
The high moments of his presentation included his stories and his gymnastics demonstrations on the pommel horse (tied in to his stories of course) – very cool!
But, unfortunately, a lot of people had a hard time following Peter throughout large portions of the program. Why? Because he just spoke too fast. He’d get on a roll and just keep on going.
While I could follow him, I have to admit that after about 20 minutes of the incredibly fast pace I found myself checking my watch and wondering how much longer I had to sit there. Not good.
Here’s a guy with unbeleivable charm, a great sense of comedic timing, teriffic facial expressions, body movements and gestures, and an interesting message. But when he started telling some of his more intense stories, he’d start sort of pacing, with his head down looking at the floor and his story would just fall out of his mouth whipcord fast. The issue was definitely a topic of conversation at the cocktail hour later in the evening.
So the moral of the story is…
- even paid professional speakers aren’t perfect
- you can seriously damage a potentially terrific presentation by speaking way too fast
- and of course… if you can add gymnastics demonstration to your speech, well there’s some teriffic use of physically showing the audience what you are talking about… too bad we’re not all gymnasts.
The fast talking wasn’t the only issue with his presentation, but it was the least forgivable.
Obviously as a successful corporate speaker, Peter’s clients and audiences forgive him of this habit or he wouldn’t continue to book large events.
But I couldn’t help thinking about how much better he’d be with a little bit of help himself.