No Need for Speed

May 25, 2014
Mary Jane Copps

“The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven’t thought of yet.” Ann Landers

Time spent on the phone, whether it’s with friends and family or with clients and prospects, is intimate communication. Next to being in the same room with someone, it is the best way to truly hear and discuss thoughts and ideas. This is why I advocate eliminating all distractions when you are on the phone. (This 2009 study from Stanford offers more insight into the harsh impacts of multitasking.) 

But even when you are 100% focused on the conversation in your hand, you can slip into two habits that hinder great communication: 1) talking too fast and 2) using industry jargon.

The best way to judge if you are talking too fast is to record yourself on the phone. Actually hearing your rush of words will definitely influence you to slow down.

If recording an actual call isn’t possible, be attentive to the pace of the other person and match it. Unless your customers and clients all talk at lightening speed, then you won’t either.

And when it comes to using industry jargon on the phone, focus on talking about your work in the simplest terms possible. When we use complicated and industry-specific language with a customer/prospect with limited knowledge, we can give offence, lose their business because they were too shy/uncomfortable to tell us they did not understand.

Assume that the person you are speaking with knows nothing about what you do and how you do it. If it turns out they are already well-educated about your industry, you can change your language to match their understanding.

Enjoy your phonework everyone!


  1. Linda Daley says:

    It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto in my mid 20’s that I discovered I talk fast and, yes, sometimes faster than I think. Of course, my combination Newfoundland / Nova Scotia accent didn’t help. Now, I’m not sure if we can hear faster on the east coast, but I do remember being asked to slow down by friends and colleagues alike. Of course, since then I’ve also learned there are other reasons for slowing down, aside from being heard – like breathing and thinking and listening! Great advice from you as always.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Linda. And thanks for pointing out the typo too. I guess going too fast applies to proofreading as well!

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