How fast should I speak when giving a public speech? A lot of people worry and are concerned about how fast they should speak or how slow they should speak when they give a public speech.
Truthfully, most people talk too quickly when they give a public speech and they lose their audience because of the speed at which they’re talking. Speed shows nervousness and a lack of control, so we really want to get that under raps.
So, How Fast Should You Speak?
Slower Than You Think!
The first little piece of advice that I want to give you is that it is slower than you think, you should check The Colin James Method to find out.
A lot of people think that they need to talk really quickly and get the words out there. They need to get their message out really, really quickly and talk to other people and say everything that they need to say.
However, sometimes talking slower can actually deliver your message in a better way and allows you to emphasize words and allows you to make your speech more interesting to the audience.
The first piece of advice is that you probably need to speak slower than you actually think.
I know when I first started recording podcasts, I spoke extremely quickly and that the more that I have progressed throughout my podcast and I’m still learning, but the slower that I speak.
And It’s Very Difficult To Talk Too Slowly
Next tip is that it is very difficult to talk too slowly, okay? You don’t want to be too slow but it’s very hard to talk too slowly.
Our natural tendency is to talk extremely quickly, so know that, yes, you need to speak slower than you think, but you probably don’t need to worry about how slow you’re speaking because it’s very difficult to talk slowly. It feels awkward when you’re talking too slow.
Important: You Want Your Audience To Understand Your Message Not Hear Your Words
Next bit of advice is that you want the audience to understand your message, not to hear your words. It’s not about getting the most words packed into a speech. It’s about the audience hearing, understanding your message, and walking away with those concepts now firmly planted in their minds.
Understand that if you can’t cut out words and talk slower, as long as you’re still getting the message across, that is what’s important in your public speech.
How Many Words Per Minute Should You Speak?
Next thing to do will be to calculate your words per minute. It might be an idea to sit down and do a recording and then go through that recording and count how many words you said in one minute.
Six Minutes, which is a blog about public speaking, they did an analysis of nine Ted talks and found out the average word count was around 163 words per minute, with the lowest being around 133 and the highest around 199 or something like that. There was a range of different speakers talking on different subjects, and that 163 came out as the average.
How Fast Do I Speak Per Minute?
How fast do I speak per minute? Truthfully, I have no idea.
Some minutes, I speak faster. Some minutes, I speak slower.
Find out how you speak per minute, and if it sounds too fast, then look at trying to cut that back.
Tip: Video Yourself and Watch It Back
Next tip would be to video yourself and to watch yourself back, or to do a trial run with friends and family. If you’re videoing yourself, then you can get feedback by watching yourself.
You can feel, is it awkward? Am I talking too fast? At this point, did I talk too fast and lose the audience or did I talk too slowly?
By watching yourself on camera, you can get a much better idea of the speed at which you’re speaking, and because you’re not in the speech, you’re actually standing back watching it yourself, it allows you to adjust.
Doing a trial run with friends and family, you can ask them specifically, “How fast did I speak? Did I speak too fast and do I need to slow down? Was it a good rate and did you understand my message? Do you think I felt comfortable?” You can ask them for feedback before you actually do the presentation in front of the audience that you’ll be presenting to.
Ask Yourself: How Slowly Can I Speak and Still Engage The Audience?
Then lastly, you need to ask yourself, “How slowly can I speak and still engage the audience?”
What we want to do is form a baseline of how slowly we can speak and still keep the audience engaged, and then we can ramp up our speaking speed from there.
You can start by talking too slow and being awkward on purpose and you say, “Okay, this is too slow. I need to talk a bit faster.” Then talk a bit faster, how does that feel? “Okay, this is slow but it’s still good and still engaging because I’m using inflections to differentiate my voice.”
Then you can use that as a baseline and say, “Okay, this is the slowest I can speak. I want to make sure I don’t go slower than this,” and then you can work out from there.
This has been a few ideas about how fast you should speak when you give a public speech. I hope that has given you a few things to think about, and we’ll give you more confidence when you get out there on the stage and deliver your speech in the right tempo at the right speed.