Some scientists say that about every 11 seconds our minds talk to us. When we’re listening to someone else speak to us about 250 words a minute, our minds, which are capable of dealing with thousands of words per minute, go wandering off, as in, “Did I turn off the coffee maker this morning?” “Do I remember where I parked the car in the parking structure?” “What shall I wear for the event tonight?”
One way to tie up our self-talk or to continually focus on the speaker is to use the rapid repeat technique. Like anything new, it takes some practice. Here’s how it works: As you’re listening to someone, you talk along with the speaker in your mind as the person is talking, saying the exact words and phrase, in the same tonality, and at the same speed. Basically you just talk along, rapidly repeating in your mind exactly what you are listening to.
Three things occur. First, it holds your concentration because your inner voice, your inner dialogue, has something to do. Rather than wandering off about dinner tonight or whatever it may be, it has something to occupy it. So the technique gives you improved concentration.
Second, the procedure enhances recall. The process forms new pathways with a slight echo to it—the speaker’s voice and yours. As a result, the process reinforces what you are hearing. Many studies have shown that listening is not nearly so effective in remembering as listening and repeating what you have heard.
The third aspect has to do with attention. Since your mouth will not be moving during this listening and inner voice repeating, you are more apt to look at the speaker during the process. Looking at the speaker promotes attention.