Avoid ramblings – Put your mind before your mouth


Public speaking primarily requires two human tools: your mouth and your mind. Each relies on the other to effectively design and convey your ideas.

But we often forget this interdependence. We sometimes allow our mouth to get ahead of our mind, launching words and ideas like a fire hose instead of a laser beam. Lagging behind, our minds are deprived of the ability to choose words accurately and prioritize them appropriately.

Speakers who put their mouths first wander around, repeat themselves, and frequently use filler words like “ah” and “um” and “you know.” They mix essential and non-essential details and fail at the most important task of all: conveying a clear point.

To speak clearly and effectively, speakers must reverse the order of these functions, allowing their mind to go first, producing a rolling mental script that their mouth can simply follow. Here’s what the difference looks like:

The mouth in mind:

“So I thought we could talk a bit about the project and talk about what makes it a great idea on so many levels to allow us to do better overall, including ways to save money. money and being more efficient, like lowering our costs –and helping us achieve awesome results every day for most departments, but not all, whether you’re here in New York or Los Angeles. satellite office in North Carolina. Or anywhere else.”

The spirit before the mouth:

“I would like to explain how the ABC project will increase efficiency and productivity throughout the company.”

How do you establish an order of mind first, mouth second (outside of hypnosis)? One tactic helps more than any other.


You may already know that pauses are a useful tool for creating drama and attracting attention, but one of the benefits of pausing trumps them all: When you pause, you give your mind time to do its job of advising your mouth (the same way your mind advises you to look both ways before crossing the street and think twice about that new investment).

Pausing also slows your pace, giving your mind even more time to formulate ideas and even keep your mouth away from filler words.

In my workshops, I will often ask participants to give – without any preparation – tiny speeches describing their favorite parts of their work. Before they begin, I make them imagine that they have all the time in the world and that they can stop as many times as necessary to express what they want to say precisely.

You can almost see the gears spinning in their heads as they stop very briefly and wait for their minds to instruct their mouths. The typical result: clear, direct responses with solid, filler-free endings.

If you’re worried about how people react to pauses, don’t. An audience never says, “That was a great presentation…except for all the pauses.” They were more likely fascinated by your moments of silence and perhaps used the time themselves to let your ideas sink in.

If you’re worried that someone else in your meeting will rudely hijack your break to insert their points, try slowing your pace without taking significant breaks. (Also remember that you always have the right to resurface if someone has diminished or hijacked it).

So how do you present accurately? This is not a job for your mouth alone. Slow down, take breaks and let your mind and mouth deliver a powerful duo.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


Comments are closed.