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September 2, 2014
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist
Are you a fast talker? Do you cram so many words per minute into your
speech that listeners are left scratching their heads and wondering
what you’re talking about? Talking too fast can cause significant
problems, both personally and professionally. Fast speech suggests you
are nervous or anxious – you don’t create a great first impression - and
speaking too fast could cause you problems in the workplace as
colleagues are unable to have a conversation with you. Did you know
that talking too fast could also be a sign of a psychological disorder?
Find out why you talk fast, and what you can do about it.
How Fast is Too Fast?
There is no scientific or mathematical data that states how fast you
need to be talking in order to be considered a rapid speaker.
Perceptions of speech are different depending on the listener, the
speaker, the context, and the subject.
Pressure of speech, pressured speech, tachylalia, agitolalia, agitophasia,
or verbomania are all different terms for what is not a medical problem
in itself, but could be the symptom of an illness – speaking rapidly so
that the listener is unable to follow the train of your conversation. You
may be completely incoherent or also speak in a disordered manner.
Psychological Causes of Talking Too Fast
Talking too fast can be caused by the speaker having a flight of ideas
that sprint through their mind too quickly to be properly articulated and
is often a result of a psychological condition.
One of the prime psychological causes of fast speech is bipolar disorder
– patients with bipolar disorder speak rapidly in a way that is hard to
follow, during periods of mania. Dr. Jacob L. Driesen defines this type
of speech as "rapid, virtually nonstop, often loud and emphatic,
seemingly driven, and usually hard to interrupt."
Sufferers of schizophrenia, as well as people experiencing extreme
anxiety, may also speak very quickly. Attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder also causes rapid speech.
In addition to these psychological disorders, certain stimulants are also
proven to cause fast talking in the individual taking the substances –
cocaine, amphetamines, and even caffeine may result in rapid speech.
Other Causes of Talking Too Fast
When there is no psychological condition or stimulant present, the
speaker may be talking fast because this is a learned behavior – your
fast talking may be simple habit. Some studies have also shown that
people with Parkinson’s disease tend to speak a lot more quickly and in
a more disorder fashion than people without this disorder.
Talking fast also is a cultural or regional trait. People in the
Northeastern region of the United States talk almost twice as fast as
those in other regions.
Whatever your reasons for talking too fast, you and your audience will
benefit from slowing down. We looked at recent scientific works to find
out how to stop talking so fast, or treat the causes of fast talking.
1. Fast Speech May Be Caused by Parkinson’s Disease
Belgian researchers M Dordain, C Chevrie Muller, and C Guidet wrote in
1978 how people with Parkinson’s disease showed greater speech
speed than people without the disease, and 2008 research from Ruhr-
University of Bochum, Germany demonstrated that Parkinson’s disease
sufferers displayed speech with significantly fewer pauses than the
healthy control subjects.
CDP-choline, also called citicholine, has been tested as a natural
treatment for Parkinson’s disease. A 1990 study from the
Pharmacologic Institute for Clinical Research, Munich, Germany looked
at 74 people with Parkinson’s disease and found that CDP-choline
helped improve the effectiveness of standard Parkinson’s medication.
2. Treat Bipolar Disorder – A Cause of Fast Speech
Many people who suffer from bipolar disorder speak very quickly when
they are experiencing periods of mania.
While natural remedies are not recommended as sole treatments for
bipolar disorder, there are some techniques which can help alongside
standard medication or treatment.
These include the use of an air ionizer that produces negative ions (an
anion generator) to help treat the symptoms of acute mania, according
to a 2007 study from Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio.
3. Yoga For Fast Speech Caused by Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is another disorder where sufferers may speak much
faster than normal, resulting in problems understanding and
emphasizing with the individual. Yoga has been tested as a
supplemental treatment for the symptoms of schizophrenia, including in
a 2007 study by the National Institute of Mental Health and
NeuroSciences, Bangalore, India.
People who took part in a yoga program alongside their regular
treatment experienced improvements in symptoms, according to the
results of the research.
4. Try Mindfulness Meditation When You Talk Too Fast
When talking too fast is the result of habit, it can help to pay attention
to the situation through mindfulness in order to make changes.
Mindfulness meditation can increase mindfulness, and it also has the
added benefit of relieving stress and nervousness, factors which can
contribute to fast speech.
A 2014 study from Kyungpook National University, South Korea and
the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis showed mindfulness
meditation helped nursing students decrease depression, anxiety and
stress, and increase mindfulness.
5. Cure Cluttering to Slow Down Rapid Speech
Cluttering is not the same as stuttering, but both are speech disorders.
Cluttering is characterized by disorganized speech which can include
talking too fast or talking in spurts, as well as excessive breaks in the
flow of speech. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association, “Cluttering is a fluency disorder characterized by a rapid
and/or irregular speaking rate”. Therapy for cluttering helps reduce
the speaking rate, often using delayed auditory feedback devices, or
techniques to insert deliberate pauses in speech.
6. Techniques for Slowing Down Your Speeches
If you find you are rushing through speeches or talks you have to give
at work, try these speech techniques to pace yourself and help the
audience understand what you are saying.
Always remember that, when public speaking, you need to speak more
slowly than normal – you need to get your rate down to around 150
words a minute, whereas you can hit 400 words per minute in a
conversation you are racing through.
Nerves may be playing a part, so concentrate on relaxation exercises
before the speech and practice until you are confident you know your
topic. While speaking, remember to include pauses.
Try to keep the “beat” as you speak and pause for three beats between
sentences. Insert longer pauses when you are reciting items in a list, or
talking about something you know very well – here you have a
tendency to speed up even more. (Try these techniques to avoid
slurring your speech.)
7. Artificially Record Your Speech – An Extreme, But Successful Way of
Creating Intelligible Speech
Research shows that artificially-produced speech is easier than natural
speech to understand, even when the artificial speech is very fast.
A 2003 study from the Utrecht institute of Linguistics OTS, Utrecht
University, The Netherlands found that “Even when naturally produced
fast speech is perfectly intelligible, its less careful articulation, combined
with the changed timing pattern, slows down processing…
Furthermore, listeners preferred artificially time-compressed speech
over naturally produced fast speech.”
Not the perfect solution for fast talkers, but something worth
considering when you think about how your speech sounds to others.
Learn More Great Food Tips for Men:
Why Do I Slur My Speech Sometimes?-Causes and Cures
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10 Superfoods for Men's Health
Foods That Strengthen Erectile Performance
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Prostate Cancer Linked to Fatty Diet
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