Do you speak too fast?

Do you speak too fast?

Speech rate is the term given to the speed at which you speak. Studies show speech rate alters depending on the speaker’s culture, geographical location, subject matter, gender, emotional state, fluency, profession or audience.

Speech rate is the term given to the speed at which you speak. It’s calculated in the number of words spoken in a minute. A normal number of words per minute (wpm) can vary hugely.

However, despite these variables, there are widely accepted guidelines. These are:

  • Slow speech is usually regarded as less than 110 wpm, or words per minute.
  • Conversational speech generally falls between 120 wpm at the slow end, to 160 – 200 wpm in the fast range.
  • People who read books for radio or podcasts are often asked to speak at 150-160 wpm.
  • Auctioneers or commentators who practice speed speech are usually in the 250 to 400 wpm range.

Why change your speech rate?

Generally people are not conscious of their habitual speaking speed, and if they are understood by those listening, there is little reason to change. However, changes of audience and speech purpose can force a need to become more aware of speaking speed. For example, a shift from one part of a country to another, from a slower speaking area to a faster speaking one, and vice-versa.

Similarly, someone with naturally fast speech who takes a job requiring presentations to colleagues or customers, will find themselves having to slow down in order to communicate effectively.

Compared to American speakers, Slavic speakers have a somewhat faster speech rate. Generally, slower is more intelligible than faster speech. Appropriate pauses allow your audience time to digest what you’ve said and process it.

The best way to determine your speaking rate is to time yourself delivering a real speech with a real audience. (Video helps too — you can count your words from it too.) If you are anywhere close to the range of the speakers analyzed above (133 to 188 words/minute), you’re fine.

No matter what your average speaking rate is over the entire speech, you should always vary it within a speech. Don’t deliver sentence after sentence at the same exact rate. Varying your speech rate adds life to your vocal delivery, and allows you to convey both meaning and emotional content. For example, you can speak a little faster to convey excitement, or a little slower to reflect sadness or confusion.

I know very few people who speak considerably too slow, but many who speak too fast. Because of the common tendency to put too much content into our presentations, we tend to speak at a blazing speed to get through it all. So, in general, slow down!

We are here to help you with all of your speech needs, so that you be understood clearly in all social situations. Contact us today

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