The answer is simple. Neither is correct. Those who speak too slowly try our patience and lose our attention while those who speak too quickly tire us out. The best rate of speed for speaking is called moderate and lies anywhere between 140 and 180 words per minute; however, there are conditions even to that advice.
Are you reading out loud to little children or are you reading scripture at the lectern? Are you speaking in the Northeast to a business group or are you talking to a quilting club in a nursing home? Without a doubt, the type of material you are presenting or reading and the type of audience to whom you are presenting will affect your speed.
While those in the Northeast tend to talk faster than anywhere else in the country, I have had Southerners who speak too quickly and Northerners who speak too slowly. Temperament and lifestyle definitely have an impact on one’s speed.
The point in speaking is to keep the attention of those to whom you are addressing; therefore, your speed is critical if you don't want to lose their attention whether you are too fast or too slow. Many people are unaware of how fast or how slowly they speak and are often shocked when they hear themselves on a recording. Learning how to control your speed is the answer. If I have only 5 minutes to talk about my business, I'm going to speak more quickly than if I have 20 minutes. But, I am in control of that speed.
To test your rate of speed, do the following:
1. Practice reading the above four paragraphs of this newsletter out loud.
2. When you are comfortable with the words, time yourself reading it for 1 minute.
Where were you when the timer ended? If you finished only the 1st two paragraphs, you need to learn to speak more quickly. If you finished the 1st three paragraphs, you are within the correct speed at 159 words per minute. If you managed to read all four paragraphs before the buzzer sounded, you must slow down because you just read 259 words in a minute! There is no absolute however. Finishing somewhere within the 1st sentence of the last paragraph would still put you in the running for good speed.
Learn to control your speed and your listeners will follow.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels is a voice specialist and president of Voice Dynamic as well as the SelfGrowth’s Official Guide to Public Speaking. Holding corporate and 2-day workshops throughout the US and Canada, she launched Voicing It! in April of 2006, the only video training course on voice improvement. You can watch clips from her DVD on her website and ‘before’ & ‘after’ takes of her clients as well as download an audio presentation in which Nancy how voice training can improve your life both professionally and personally at: http://www.voicedynamic.
Additional Resources covering Public Speaking can be found at: