My boss says I talk too slow....

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by glocke12, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. glocke12, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    glocke12 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    Some context..Im 43, work in pharma. Im not a chatterbox, and to be honest unless I have something to say that I feel is relevant usually keep my mouth shut. Once in awhile I have to give presentations at work, and while I feel I don't take my time while presenting, I try to present at a pace that is comfortable for me.

    It was after one of these presentations that my supervisor pulled me aside and said I talk to slow.

    At first I was insulted, than after I was over getting insulted I was a little pissed off. Been working here for 13 years and have given many presentations and have never been told this before, in some cases I have had prior bosses compliment me on giving a good presentation.

    Suggestions on how to handle this?
  2. likemyorbs macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2008
    Talk faster?
  3. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    I'd ask for feedback on how to improve your presentation abilities/ skills/ performance in the future.

    If he offers substantiated feedback then you'll know he's being sincere.

    If he fails to come up with anything concrete then you'll know it's just his opinion passed off as management.

    If this is the first time, I'd let it slide. If he's done this multiple times, perhaps pursue an avenue through HR.
  4. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    Some managers aren't fit to be management and do nothing but nitpick on little things instead of real problems. I had a situation similar to yours at my last job only mine was that my supervisor was convinced that I didn't know how work with or troubleshoot Windows desktops and servers since I owned a Mac. Thankfully my work proved him wrong but I almost lost my job over it.
  5. MSM Hobbes macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2006
    NE Hoosierana
    Can you ask anyone else that you trust, that would be sincere / honest in their reply? Can you videotape it, and have others critique your presentation? I dunno, maybe he was in a hurry this particular time,,, golf outing coming up that afternoon? Just curious, how many people were in this gathering? During the presentation, did you notice any eyes glazing over,,, maybe worse than normal? ;)
  6. Thomas Veil, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    I second the suggestion of videotaping your presentation. Most people are surprised to see how they really come across, as opposed to how well they think they did.
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    I third this. I did this once long ago when I was a commissioned salesman and my pitches improved dramatically.
  8. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Slow presentations are very painful. I agree that video tape yourself and watch it and also observe your audience is the best advise. I might suggest the Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs book. It is a good read even if you don't do anything it suggests. It is more than just speaking slower or faster.
  9. iBlue macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    What does slow say?

    (sorry) :eek: :D

    I'm not sure what to suggest but that isn't exactly constructive criticism from your supervisor. Maybe ask him/her to elaborate on whether or not they mean you should SPEAK faster or be more concise? It seems to me that people speak in the pace they are comfortable with at the time and there's not a lot that can be done about it. Trying to rush yourself can make for choppy speech and mistakes, which may actually be worse for the listeners.
  10. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago

    I would much rather listen to someone in a presentation situation speaking slowly and deliberately than somebody talking at 100 MPH.

    Perhaps pointing this out to your supervisor politely might help....? If you are in the back of a crowded room it can be tough to follow these things anyway.
  11. acidfast7 macrumors 65816


    Nov 22, 2008
    To be honest ... talking too slowly is one of the most difficult things to watch in a presentation. Most people associate talking like a machine gun and overwhelming an audience as a sign of mastery of the presented material. Conversely, taking too slowly usually provides the aura of having not mastered the material. Whether or not this is an accurate reflection is a different question.

    In addition, taking it easy on your boss, things are extremely tough in pharma and are about to get much, much harder over the next 2-3 years, with key patent expiration, the lack of viable drugs in the pipeline and Germany's new price-setting laws (Novartis is slashing R&D in Basel by 2000 positions at a minimum). Your boss is probably under huge cost-cutting pressure and he/she is doing you a favor by letting you know how the company perceives you.

    I wouldn't worry about videotaping the presentation. When I need to give a high-profile talk, I have every word for every slide memorized and I can run through the talk word-by-word and move point the laser pointer to the desired location with my eyes closed.

    I would recommend that you do this before hand and time yourself. After setting a baseline of x number of minutes, I would set to shave off 25-30% of the time. You'll feel like you're talking extremely fast, but, in the end, you'll probably sound average to others.

    Just my .02€
  12. HellDiverUK macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2009
    Belfast, UK
  13. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
  14. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Maybe you and your boss both never realised that people just talk at different speeds. So it is most likely that you are not talking too slow, you are just not talking at your bosses preferred speed.
  15. glocke12 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    Actually, I do realize this. My office partner is actually at the exact same end of the spectrum. She is a "speed talker" and is one of those that more often than not speaks just to make noise when it is silent. I would say that during her presentations, she says so much that only half of what she is saying relevant.

    In 13 years I have had 4 different supervisors and this is the first one that has complained or had an issue. I would think if I were that terrible one of those other people I have reported to would have mentioned something.
  16. Abstract, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location

    The OP may (or may not) be talking to slowly. I don't know, but what you said is not true at all. In fact, that is the exact OPPOSITE of how important people are taught to give presentations. ;)

    People who are trained to speak publicly are told to:

    - speak slowly, and clearly (but obviously not too slow).
    - vary the speed throughout.
    - use hand gestures
    - sprinkle slight, but deliberate, pauses at certain points of your speech/presentation. It gives people time to take in the importance/"take home message" of what you're saying.

    People who speak a bit slower are generally seen as people who command respect. They're not seen as dumb, or a bit "slow". It's the people who ramble on and on at 100 mph that sound like salesmen --- people you mistrust. Furthermore, people who are listening to a "speed talker" are more likely to try and interrupt by cutting in deliberately and talking over that other person, and then it becomes a contest to see who can talk the loudest. ;)

    It's very hard to jump in and interrupt a person who speaks slowly. It's almost the opposite of what is intuitive, but it's true.

    Take a list of people who have important jobs and are required to speak publicly, and tell me whether they speak quickly:

    - Obama (an incredible speaker), Bush Jr., Clinton, Bush Sr, etc etc.
    - Probably EVERY Prime Minister you've ever heard speak.
    - Steve Jobs (veeeeery slow pace), Phil Schiller, Bill Gates, any CEO, any important person working at a large company.
    - Lawyers. Even lawyers on TV shows speak well.
    - salespeople. Many will come to the hospital I work at and demonstrate new software that they want you to sell, or demonstrate software that you have just purchased from them for $500,000, or hardware that they sold you for $4 million.

    You may or may not like these people, but the fact is, they usually speak quite well in front of a crowd, and they would never speak quickly in front of the media or public. ;)
  17. acidfast7 macrumors 65816


    Nov 22, 2008
    (S)He's a guy working in a phrama company. Slow presentations are not acceptable, especially at group/section meetings. (S)he's not dealing with the public, and if (s)he is, then they're ridiculous for complaining on a public BBS.

    When I buy equipment, I don't want a slow presentation, in fact, when I get any presentation from a sales rep, I think it's a time-waster. I don't want a public demo, I want you to leave the equipment with me so I can test it, I don't need a 20-min slow-spoken presentation about the advantages of your triple-laser dual-monochromater FACS machine. I want you to leave it at least me test it for a month or so.

    Your comparison is horrible, at best.
  18. garybUK Guest


    Jun 3, 2002
    Is it a difference in Regional accents? I worked in TN for a bit and sometimes I found it a little painful when people talked too slow, rather frustrating.

    I have also worked with Brummies (People from Birmingham, England) and they have slower accents which I cannot stick, personally... it can really put off your attention to the subject material.

    I'd second what others have said, ask for feedback; if it's a genuine complaint look at how to 'change' the way you speak in presentations.
  19. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I also have some of the "talks too fast" problem. I am trying to use phrasing to control this -- that is, put spacing between phrases for emphasis, to improve my presentation (to some extent for lectures, but mostly actually for bedside manner). It probably is a good tool for both slow and fast speakers, since a slower speaker can work on making the words flow more quickly inside the phraselets. I think Barack Obama, actually, of all people has a very well developed style of doing this.
  20. imahawki macrumors 6502a

    Apr 26, 2011
    I'd ask for some clarity. Does he literally mean you talk too slow or do you over-elaborate and fail to move from point to point quickly enough. I have an employee who talks at a fast enough pace but he fails to sum things up, he makes his points take far too long to get across and when he asks questions, he over-elaborates and gives examples of what he's expecting the answer to be rather than letting there be some silence while the client thinks.
  21. TPadden, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    TPadden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2010
    Look up the definition of "boss" and "supervisor" in relation to employment and then react accordingly ;).
  22. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    No, your suggestion that people who talk "like a machine gun and overwhelming an audience as a sign of mastery" is wrong, at best.

    I'm not suggesting that everyone speak at a snail's pace, but even when giving sales presentations, everyone should speak between normal speed, and slow, and vary their speed in between.

    Speaking quickly gives people the perception that you're trying to "pull a fast one". It sounds deceptive. Con artists talk quickly, and move quickly. The goal is to not give people enough time to think.

    I don't know why speaking "like a machine gun" would leave a good impression. Even if an effective speaker were to only speak at normal pace, he/she should add very deliberate pauses in between key sentences, key points, etc. Yes, they slow things down, but that's what you should want if you think you're saying something important.
  23. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    How long have you had this supervisor? Is this really a big deal or are you making too much out of it? I mean, are we talking about a passing comment meant to be constructive criticism or are we talking about something that is adversely affecting performance appraisals or quarterly reviews?

    If it's not affecting your job and he's not routinely at your speaking engagements then I wouldn't let it bother you. If no one is complaining at your presentations then just keep doing what you do and continue to look for ways to improve.

    The video taping idea is a good one. I was forced to do this in my graduate program and at a previous job. It really helps as you see or hear things you didn't know you were doing. Self-awareness is not always accurate and objective study, like video or audio recordings, can help.
  24. Arran macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2008
    Atlanta, USA
    Wish more folks did that! :)

    What about your audience? Do they think you're going too slow? Offer, upfront, to adjust your speed to suit their needs. It may be that they already know some of your material (maybe they've reviewed it already?). OTOH, there may be parts where they need you to slow down and answer questions.

    If you can get a good dialog going with the audience then their needs can be better met. Do this in front of your boss and there's not much he can say later - unless speed is more important to him than comprehension - in which case you'd be best to simplify and drop some material.
  25. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I say it's easier to criticize than to be correct.

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