I receive a lot of emails from colleagues, but one I just received said he has spoken to me a number of times on various topics and that I talk fast. He also suggested I make this a topic of an article. Here it is.
I never thought I spoke too quickly, but have been told that a number of times. When I used to be on NYC television regularly, the newscaster started calling me “Fast Eddie.” When I asked her why, she said it was because I talk very fast.
I talk fast when I give speeches or webinars because I usually have a lot of material to cover, and by talking fast I can convey more information.
When I was young I did not speak well and was in remedial speech therapy from grade school through college. My professional speaking started when I realized that was the way to get business. I started with local groups by volunteering for year-end tax planning speeches. Knowing I wasn’t a great speaker I prepared and distributed voluminous handouts. I guess I started speaking quickly to get through all the info.
I realized two things early on: 1) It didn’t matter how I spoke if I provided good information and more than what was promised; and 2) I did not get myself crazy if I bombed out—I used it as a learning experience. Luckily the bombing out was rare. My test usually came when I was asked back by the organization. In fact in March I will be presenting my 37th annual financial program for one of these organizations. I have also given over 50 presentations of Managing Tax Season speeches for the New Jersey Society of CPAs.
When I taught graduate school I used to tape my lectures and listened to them in the car going home. I was terrible! What I did was work on getting better with one thing at a time. The “you knows,” “uhs,” and myriad other useless expressions were knocked out—usually one every month or so.
One time I received a letter from a speech therapist saying how interesting I was on television, but that I could even be better if I pronounced certain words better. She told me she would be pleased to come to my office and explain what she meant—at no charge. She came and I signed up for weekly speech lessons. This helped, but I might have done better if I did all of the homework exercises she prescribed.
Today, I speak well—maybe not great, but well. I like my style. I feel my personality gets through, and I never feel I shortchange my listeners. I also never minded the work preparing, and I always provide more than promised, making me feel good. I also try to WOW my audience. I keep a small card with me that says:
• Prepare thoroughly.
• Be animated.
• Speak deliberately.
• It’s not about you. It’s about transferring knowledge.
I do talk fast—but I have much to say and want to get it all in.
Use my experience as a takeaway for you to give speeches or improve on what you do. If you want to discuss or need a push, contact me and I’ll be glad to help.
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, published by www.CPATrendlines.com and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition,” published by the AICPA. Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.