Rate of Speech – What is Ideal?

Rate of speech for public speaking with Powerpoint presentations depends on and are determined by several factors for effective communicating your speech topics calculated in speaking words per minute, here I group the best ones to help you changing and varying your vocal beat and natural rhythm. Before you jump to the chart, there are things you cannot ignore, let’s say first, all your pace depends on: 

I. The situation:

a. Setting, the mise-en-sc??ne;

b. Occasion and conditions;

c. Your speech topics idea;

d. Length of time allotted;

e. The audience members’

? ? ? ? backgrounds and beliefs.

II. The public speaking audience must understand the oral topics points you are trying to make and communicate. You – the public speaker – want of course:

? ? ? 
a. Less stress and nervousness – either by public speaking training or not;

b. To produce a well spoken english pronunciation (or other languages of course :-);

c. The words come properly with a stable vocal delivery.

d. Your voice varying in intonation and timing pauses (for taking a breath or even
? ? ? ? receiving applause – at the right moment :-).

III. And the personal notes you have written in the margin of your paper or speaking cards about pausing and speeding up or slowing down your tempo influence the speech speed too. I always use these annotations during my speaking activities: slow! faster! breath and make eye contact! wait here a second! Etcetera.

And remember the rate of speech varies greatly, due to all these factors. Some facts to consider:

  • Children and seniors speak slower, and enthusiastic motivational people faster.
  • Slide or Powerpoint presentations are understand at 100 words per minute – they need time to read.
  • Debaters and politicians on campaign trail seeking votes often speak very fast, over 200 words and even more.
    A conversation with your friends ranges normally between 120 to even 200 (if you are arguing or making jokes:-)
  • Radio and television news presenters vary from 120 to 160. Sports commentators easily reach a 400 speaking words per minute.

But what is my ideal rate of speech, you wonder.
The average person speaks slow if she/he talks 80 up to 100 words per minute, average with about 120 words,
and fast if she/he talks 140 up to 160 words per minute.
Look for the best way to find out what speed of speech in general is appropriate at this (again) basic general speaking words per minute chart:

80 WPM 100 WPM 120 WPM 140 WPM 160 WPM
Slow Average Rate Fast

And now go to my rate of speech calculators to make it more precise for yourself as part of your public speaking training efforts. Easy as a piece of cake …

These tips are based on years of speechwriting experience and related scientific theories. You better speed up somewhat or slow down a bit your speed of speech in case of these circumstance and purposes:

A persuasive speech?

Hostile audience? ?†’ Fast uptempo
Friendly audience? ?†’ Slow to Average

An informative purpose?

Technical and/or slide show? ?†’ Slow
Learning environment? ?†’ Slow to Average
Narratives, repetition, easy descriptions and educational or scientific explanations ?†’ Fast

Other speech topics?

Graduation? ?†’ Average to Fast
After dinner setting? ?†’ Average to Fast
Key note address? ?†’ Slow to Average

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Author: Jim Peterson
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