Many of us have a tendency to rush when we speak or perform. Nerves and adrenaline often tempt us to slam on the accelerator and race through our speech or performance at breakneck speed in order to get it over with as quickly as possible. Rushing may indeed get it over and done with more quickly, but it muddies meaning and clouds communication. But with practice, we can better control our pace. Here are a few helpful exercises to help you slow down, explore and define nuances. These exercises should give your work more clarity, shade and dimension.
Find a text to read (a speech, short story, poem, fable, play, etc.). Place two chairs next to each other about a meter or so apart. Sit in one chair and begin to read the text aloud (always with intention, as if you’re speaking to someone for real). When you come to a full stop, exclamation or hard punctuation mark move over to the other chair before you continue speaking. You can also try moving on softer punctuation such as commas and semi-colons. Now try walking while speaking and change direction on punctuation marks. Now try simply snapping your fingers on punctuation marks instead.
Try writing out your speech with the hand you don’t normally write with while speaking it aloud. This can be frustrating, but breathe and stick with it as it really helps you slow down and connect with the text. It will also help with memorisation.
Try eeeelooooooongaaaatiiing vowel sounds. Speak some text imagining the words are syrupy and sweet like honey. Slow down, savour and exaggerate the vowel sounds especially. Speak again normally and repeat until a shade of this word relishing remains in your work.