How Distracting is Your Speaking Style?

A distracting speaking style can make an otherwise strong message very difficult to understand.

Have you ever listened to that person who says something like “um” over and over and over? After a while, all you hear are the “ums.”

How about the person who says “like,” or “you know?” Hard to listen to that after a while.

How about the person who qualifies everything they say with a “sort of” or a “kind of” or a “pretty much”? You’re never quite sure what they are confident about, because they hedge everything.

How about the person who speaks really fast, and never seems to take a breath? If there was a stenographer in the room, the dictation would include zero periods, because the speaker never actually stops speaking, ever… they just go on and on with subordinate clause after subordinate clause… #exhausting.

How about the person whose voice is so monotone that you literally can’t keep your eyes open. Their voice is like taking a sleeping pill.

All of these speech behaviors, and many more, are forms of distraction for your audience. And anything that distracts your audience from actually listening to, and hearing, your message, is a bad thing.

The best speakers do lots of things well. But chief among them is that their speaking style doesn’t make the audience work really hard, and doesn’t distract away from the message.

Eliminating distractions from your speech pattern is a great thing to focus on. How do you do it? Two ways… When someone else listens to you, ask them this question: “Is there anything in my speaking style that you don’t like or that distracts you?” And if the person is going to be honest with you, you’ll get some great feedback.

Alternatively, you could simply record yourself when you speak, and ask yourself the same question. Every smart phone has a voice recorder built in, so it’s easy to do.

We spend a lot of time at The Latimer Group talking about message development and content. Content is the most important aspect of your communication. But on top of good content, the best speakers also have strong delivery and speaking styles that don’t distract the audience. If you’ve worked really hard to craft a good message, you don’t want your speaking style to undermine the great content you worked so hard to create.

Good luck!

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at

 Photo by Pablo Fernandez used under the following license.


One response to “How Distracting is Your Speaking Style?”

  1. […] them uncomfortable. Therefore, they often fill the silence with more sound — extra words and non-words (we call them “verbal […]

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.