I noticed that some speakers, especially in impromptu situations, seem to be saying a lot of words, but not a lot of coherent thoughts. And if you were to really concentrate on what they’re saying, you’d see there’s no connection between one sentence and the next one. If you have this problem, you are probably rambling.
If you’re unsure what I mean by this, here’s a perfect example, brought to you by Kanye West. Try to figure out how his thoughts connect here. (You don’t have to watch the whole thing).
It’s funny, because he sounds really confident and passionate in what he’s saying. And some of those words sound great. But it doesn’t really make sense together.
Even if you do get what he’s saying, you have to admit—it could have been a lot clearer. He had trouble sticking to one thought.
1. Practice speaking
This is the most obvious thing that you can do to reduce your rambling. It goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyways because it’s that important.
The practice doesn’t have to be super formal. I used to practice all the time in the shower. There’s no shame in that. Maybe a little bit of shame. But not much.
Try doing it sometime. Whether in the shower, or while folding clothes, or during some other boring activity, just start giving a speech to yourself. Don’t plan it out, just start talking about the first topic that comes to mind.
If you can give a coherent 5 minute speech to yourself without any preparation, then you’ll be able to avoid rambling in any situation.
2. Don’t get lost in thought
If you spend a lot of time in speeches thinking about random things, snap back to reality.
Observe how the audience is reacting. Think about what you’re actually saying. Sometimes all it takes is a conscious move to focus on reality.
If you’ve been rambling, collect yourself, pause, and say something to the effect of, “What I’m trying to get at is this. [Pause]” and then summarize what you are trying to say.
3. Speak slower, or pause
Speaking slower and pausing are in general good ideas.
It’s even better if you tend to ramble. This will give you more time to think, and, as an added bonus, the audience follows along better!
4. Stick to one thought at a time
Most ramblers run off on rabbit trails before finishing one thought, making it difficult to follow for the audience. Sometimes someone will pause in the middle of a sentence and say something like “which reminds me of this instance where…” and then by the time they get back to what they were actually trying to say, the audience is lost.
This is the same thing that Donald Trump does. He’ll be responding to a question, then suddenly say “and by the way…” and never return to the original thought.
Focus on finishing one thought at a time. If you have an example to bring up, bring it up once you’ve finished your thought. If you find yourself saying “by the way” or a similar transition phrase frequently, that may be a red flag.
Don’t pull a Kanye West!
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