Now that you’ve mastered first two keys of the JISS (not KISS) formula, we’re getting to a toughie – Speed. And this one is critical. You might get away with a few mistakes on jargon and interaction and still have a successful meeting. NOT TRUE for Slow the Speed. The good news/bad news is that the more creative and interactive the meeting, the more likely that rapid speech becomes a problem. It IS fixable but it takes work and vigilance – work on your own pace and vigilance on group interaction speed.

It’s confession time. I started off as the world’s worst example of speaking so fast that it was difficult to follow. My ideas were running a mile a minute and my mouth was trying to keep up. It was almost by mistake that I recognized this as a problem. After recording a communication to send to a colleague, I ran the playback before sending. What a shock! I was speaking so quickly that the middle parts of words disappeared and the whole idea thread was barely understandable. What a great lesson, and also an excellent tool. For a while I recorded every presentation and many interactive sessions, replaying later to note where speed and clarity needed work. Gradually more moderate pacing became natural.

Use my ‘mistake’ and apply it intentionally. Record yourself in meetings. Listen to it. Spot where speed seems to accelerate or words are not clearly spoken. Practice a slower pace. I know, this is hard – most of us hate listening to a recording of ourselves. It is also the very best way to correct a speedy mouth problem.

Okay, so you’ve got your own speed under control. What do you do in interactive global meetings with wide variation in participants’ English language knowledge (and pronunciation)?
1) Talk with the whole group about slowing down. In my case, I use my own bad habit and working on correcting it as an example, making it okay for others. Ask the group to self-police, giving other participants ‘permission’ to ask for more moderate speed or to request clarification.
2) As the group leader, you can use the slow down gesture of palm-down lowering of hands to help if someone is on a tear.

Caveat – don’t stop a productive conversation just because it’s fast. When ideas are flowing and creativity is leading to solutions, let the interchange go. At a good stopping point, call a ‘time out’ for the group. Rephrase and restate the ideas or overall conversation thread. Ask the group if the way you stated the ideas is correct and if it’s complete. The first benefit is that you’ll assure full group understanding. The second is that a summary will often generate more ideas building from the original thoughts. And once again, you’re off and running with a successful meeting.

Check out the first two global meeting success keys!
Jettison the Jargon at
Inclusive Interaction at

Dorothy Erlanger is a meeting facilitator, speaker and trainer who has worked with Fortune 100 companies in over 25 countries across the globe. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. For facilitation of global strategic planning, executive workshops or emcee for multi-country conferences, contact Dorothy at 1-804-749-4100