Some people talk fast, some talk too slowly, and some are moderate. In public speaking, those who speak at a moderate rate are the easiest to follow over any given length of time.
I knew of a speaker in Toronto who believed that talking as fast as you can was ideal. I beg to differ. Talking at an extremely fast pace for any given length of time will challenge your audience to listen as fast as they can. The problem with this scenario is that hearing, understanding and then remembering the message is very tiring if you, as the listener, are constantly trying to keep up with the speaker who is traveling at 100 mph.
It is important to understand that the faster you speak, the more likely you are to trip over your words.
I am not an advocate of those who speak too slowly either because they try our patience. The dawdlers or those who continually insert long pauses between thoughts or even phrases lose their audience. I want you speaking at a speed that is comfortable for both you and your audience.
It is best to keep your pace somewhere between 140 and 180 words per minute. A good exercise is to set a timer for 1 minute and begin reading your speech. How far did you get? Count your words.
If you are giving a presentation, on the other hand, use your opening which you should have memorized. Write it out word for word, count the words, and then put that script away. Set your timer for 1 minute and begin your opening. When the timer goes off, stop, make note of where you ended and then count the words from your script.
If you are speaking too fast, practice slowing down. This is where a recorder can come in most handy. Often those who speak too fast have difficulty slowing down because they wrongly believe that they will be too slow. This has never happened with any of my clients. Whereas they previously may have been speaking at 100 mph, when they consciously lessen their pace, they discover that they are going about 80. Still speeding but not as dangerous as 100!
If you speak too slowly, practice speaking in tandem with an audio book. Get both the audio and visual formats, play the CD and read in time with the professional.
Speed really does matter in presenting and you should take advantage of this public speaking tip. If you want your message to be heard, then learn how to control your speed. Your job is not to tire your audience but to enervate them with your words.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. Visit Voice Dynamic and voice your opinion in her new blog.