Come on, You can finish that sentence….

Ever meet with someone who, when talking, can’t seem to finish what they are saying? Although this may occassionally happen to anyone, it is not the usual style of the majority of the population. But when it happens to someone continually, I get frustrated.

There are those who shift gears mid-sentence, not only once, but multiple times. This disrupts the flow of the conversation. Although it keeps the listener alert, it eventually forces the listener to give up on understanding what the speaker is trying to say. No doubt the speaker is just as frustrated, unless it’s a habit.

When I am the listener, I want to get to the end of the sentence. It’s like driving to my destination. I may enjoy the ride, but when it comes right down to it, I want to get there.

From my days in theatre I recall the actors who struggle when finally off-book. Not allowed to look at their script, they must rehearse what they know and ask for what they don’t know. Yet almost 100% of us don’t want prompting. We want to get there on our own. How frustrating it is for the rest of the group waiting for the right words to finally fall out of their mouth! Yet they just fall short.

We try to help out, mouth the next part, point to a clue or just say it. All the while thinking, “Come on, you can finish this.” or “Didn’t you prepare?”

When a slow speaker or responder is in action in a business environment, we question either their intelligence or their credibility. We assume they’re making things up as they go along. The same in a personal or social environment. No doubt any of us can be stumped by a question here or there, yet slow, deliberate speakers communicate discomfort.

Compound the scenario with a short lesson on Communication Style.

Both the D’s and the I’s in the above visual are fast talkers. Although either of them may stumble when mixing words or ideas, the listeners aren’t getting uncomfortable with a slow speed. The C’s and S’s may, on the other hand, be much more methodical. Their slower, cautious pace will be a hindrance to the other two styles. But for themselves, they will seldom feel discomfort with slow pace.

Stuttering or stammering, which isn’t accounted for in the above diagramn, is a product of an internal miscue. Not a pacing issue, it is addressed only through professional help. Pacing issues can be addressed through awareness, practice and focus.

If pieces of the message are slowing you down, it’s about understanding it and creating your own version. When the symptom is in the delivery, attention to style while practicing a new rhythm is important. With a speech or communication coach, this problem is addressed within a few months for those who regularly commit to it.

There is power in our message, yet it can be undervalued by our delivery. These pieces, though related, provide separate opportunities for us to develop into a very influential communicator. When this happens, people sit on the edge of their seats not to finish our sentences, but to get every word. That’s the outcome we want.

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On July 1st, 2010, posted in: Delivery, Message by