Speaking speed matters. The brains of your audience members only work so fast. You need to give them time to take in what you’re saying.
What’s the speed to shoot for? You can use the Speed of Speech calculator to calculate the ideal words per minute. The author of the calculator, Jim Peterson, brings up some interesting points on speech speed.
If you’re addressing people who already agree with what you’re saying, speak more slowly so the audience can absorb your message and feel good about it. If you’re talking to a hostile audience, speak more quickly (around 160 wpm) to make it more difficult for the audience to form arguments against your message. So get a sense beforehand (if possible) if you’re speaking to a welcoming audience. You can then tailor your speed accordingly.
If you’re delivering technical information, opt for a slower speed (between 110 and 140 wpm) so people can fully take in your speech. Technical presentations typically have a lot of jargon and data. It’s essential to give the audience enough time to process it all.
- Speaking speed for welcoming audience: 140 wpm
- Speed for hostile audience: 160 wpm
- Speed for technical presentations: 110-140 wpm