“Buddy, I’ve got a good deal for you,” says Fast Eddy. Known for his motor mouth, Eddy tosses around quick quips and comments like a seasoned auctioneer. He bombards you with useless information about the newest used car on his lot that is “perfect-for-you.” But as he comes in for the closer, Eddy slows his speech to a crawl and says the magic words, “good deal,” the key phrase that repeats in your head as you happily sign your name to the worst lease agreement of the century.

While many folks feel bamboozled by the Fast Eddys of the world, we all can learn from such shysters and use those same secret speaking skills for goodness instead of evilness. The technique I refer to is called Tortoise Talk.

Professional presenters all know to engage the audience, vary voice volume, and most importantly when making a point slow their speech and then stop. Reducing your speaking speed and pausing for a couple of beats gives your audience the precious time needed to digest your comments.

Telling a joke will demonstrate the point: “What do you get when you cross an agnostic, insomniac, and a dyslexic?” Stop and allow listeners to visualize your question during the silence. After a couple of seconds provide the punch line: “Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.” Wait two beats, this time for the laughter.

I like to employ the Tortoise Talk technique when I give a toast. I speak animatedly through my introduction then pause. I look left-right-left like I’m about to cross the street. Then continue with a slow and deliberate delivery enunciating clearly so everyone can hear my tasteful toast.

Birthday toasts present a unique challenge because the atmosphere is charged with extra energy, people chattering, and joking. But once you capture the honoree and guests’ attention, leisurely say the following toast:

Tenderly we joke and tease
Candles blown out with a wheeze
Sharing in your birthday feast
We wish you 50 more - at least!

You don’t have to permanently park your internal Fast Eddy. Instead, be alert for those times when you should move to the slow lane. This tempo change will allow you to deliver a speech or toast with maximum impact.

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