set your ideal rate of speech

Rate of speech: Definition, bonus tips, ideal rate, calculation

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People often ask me. ‘Danish…What’s the ideal rate of speech? how many words are in a 3-minute speech? How many words do I need for a five-minute speech? How to stop making pauses while making a speech? I speak too fast and unclear, how can I improve this?’ Read on to find answers to these questions and more.

The pace at which people speak differs from person to person. But this is undoubtedly one of the factors which contribute to how you look in front of your audience. Practice and alter your speaking rate depending on what you’re giving a speech about. Compare your speaking rate to the average speaking rate of people.

So what is the definition of rate of speech? It signifies the average number of words you blur out in a minute. Try and find the perfect balance for your speech rate. Finding out how many words to put in every minute is crucial if you want your speeches to improve. There are also different exercises which you can try out to develop your skills. 

Ideal Rate of Speech

So what is the ideal rate of speech?

How many words do you need for a five-minute speech? These are a few questions you might have asked before you started reading this. It might not seem like much, but the speaking rate has a significant impact on your speeches. If you talk too fast, the person, you might end up losing the person you’re pitching to.

The accepted ideal rate of speech is around 140-160 words in a minute. You must think about getting the facts to your listeners. If they can’t comprehend what you’re saying due to speaking fast, they would most likely lose interest in your speech. 

A slower rate is much more preferred than a faster one. But don’t go overboard. If you’re speaking too slow, your audience might perceive you as a slow thinker. So you must find that perfect rate. However, if you are speaking with a foreign accent, you should talk slowly.  

How is rate of speech calculated?

The usual calculation of the rate of speech in communication is straightforward. Usually, the words they utter in a minute is calculated. The abbreviated form of “wpm” might seem familiar to you. But this is highly indicative as we all know how some words take longer to utter than others.

If you want to calculate your speech rate, you should record yourself and manually count the words while listening to it. You can also use speech to text software to automatically calculate it for you.

Switch it Up a Little

If you speak at the same tone for minutes, your audience might soon lose interest. Switch things up a bit to keep your listeners at bay. Your speech rate needs to vary throughout the speech. If you don’t introduce the variations, you will end up sounding monotonous. 

Express emotions with your words while speaking. Giving subtle pauses during talking about something serious or boosting things up at other times is crucial. Your faster speech rate will convey your excitement, and the audience will get hooked. So if you can maintain an average of 150 wpm, you will have around 750-800 words in a five-minute speech.

Change things up based on the timing of your statements. When you’re starting, your audience will be paying attention. But this ends after a minute, then you should find other ways to keep your audience engaged. That’s when you switch up the pace.

Importance of Speaking Rate

The pace at which you speak has quite an impact on your audience. You might lose your most crucial listener if they can’t keep up with you. Give slight pauses throughout your speech to let the listeners absorb what you are trying to get through to them. But don’t compromise clarity as that is just as important. 

How to Get Things Right?

By now, you know how important it is to get the perfect rate of speech. You should also know that the speech rate differs depending on the situation. If you’re presenting to your clients, 100-150 wpm is a reasonable rate. But if you are a professional commentator, you’ll see yourself speaking a lot faster!

How to Develop a Perfect Speaking Rate?

As we’ve stated before, this differs from person to person. Set a standard according to the type of speech that you will be delivering. To get you started, there are multiple exercises that you could go through. Here are the top five tips to keep things on track:

1. Record and Analyze

If you want to develop a perfect speaking pace then you have to practice and get feedback on your pace. Whenever you have an important speech and meeting coming up, open the Orai app, record your speech, and sit back while Orai gives you instant and real-time feedback on your speech. Orai is a really easy way to develop the ideal pace in less time.

Use the Orai app to practice your speech

2. Implement the Use of VR

Virtual reality has been the new norm. The technology is helping people out in so many ways. You will find software that will allow you to experience real-life situations. Some games will even give you scores on your speech rates and point out the flaws. So test yourself out with this one. 

using VR to improve public speaking
Graphic designer using the virtual reality headset in creative office

3. Listen More

Do you speak too fast? Are you confused about how many words you can put in a 3-minute speech? Listen to more and more famous speakers. Watch well-known Ted Talks and try to take notes. Evaluate the techniques they use and try to implement those. Hans Rosling’s Ted Talk titled ‘The best stats you have ever seen’ is my personal favorite. Mr.Rosling’s speech involves all the right elements of a good speech in the right proportion.

4. Slow Down and Make Things Clear

Your write-ups will sound more familiar to you. So if you’re wondering how you can lower your speaking velocity or how to stop making pauses, you better put in hours of practice. Take deep breathes to deliver a steady and clear speech rate. It won’t matter how many words you utter if you are unclear.

5. Read More Stories

Even if you read children’s storybooks, you will get better. You must learn to familiarize yourself. Record yourself while speaking. Take notes of where make variations. A 10-minute speech will carry around 1200-1500 words by the time you’re done with your practice. So you can dramatically improve your rate of speech. 

read stories to improve speaking

That brings me to the end of this piece. If you are interested in articles on how to improve your speaking you can find them here. Alternatively, if you prefer consuming video content, we publish a ton of useful content on our Youtube Channel.

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Rate of speech: Definition, bonus tips, ideal rate, calculation
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Rate of speech: Definition, bonus tips, ideal rate, calculation
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What's the ideal rate of speech? There's no perfect answer to this mystery. Read on to find out more.
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Orai - Speech coach in your pocket
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