ASE Pace | BMP Network

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Interpreting Speech Pace

A FASTER speaking speed signals urgency, excitement, passion or raw emotion. 

In contrast, a SLOWER speaking rate signals importance, seriousness or significant ideas. Slow says: 'LISTEN UP! YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS.'

 

A new concept or complex information may need to be delivered slowly to give the audience time to grasp it before moving on. 

'Slow' is also useful for summarizing material.

The combination of slow, fast, and medium speed makes your speech easier to listen to.

 

 

Average speech rates

  • Presentations: between 100 - 150 wpm for a comfortable pace

  • Conversational: between 120 - 150 wpm

  • Audiobooks: between 150 - 160 wpm, which is the upper range that people comfortably hear and vocalise words

  • Radio hosts and podcasters: between 150 - 160 wpm

  • Auctioneers: can speak at about 250 wpm

  • Commentators: between 250- 400 wpm

 

 

What influences your overall speaking rate?

Here are several factors that affect the overall speaking rate, most of which can be controlled by you.

 

  • Regular speaking rate – this is the result of your environment, where you grew up, your parents, culture, friends around you and more.
     

  • Nervousness – you’ve probably noticed it yourself, when you are nervous, you speak much quicker and take short shallow breaths as you rush through the content.
     

  • Saying something urgent – understandably, we speak much quicker when there is an emergency, for example calling an ambulance or explaining an incident to the police.
     

  • Mental fatigue – tiredness affects our thought process, making it harder for us to articulate ourselves, causing us to talk more slowly.
     

  • Complexity of the words – longer, more complex words will take slightly longer to say, and if you are counting words per minute, it will affect speech pace slightly (although somewhat negligible)
     

  • Complexity of content – if you are presenting complex content, you’ll want to speak slower than usual to give the audience time to comprehend the concepts and content.
     

  • Verbal pauses – pauses are a great way to break up the content and give emphasis to what you are saying. Naturally, this will slow down your speaking rate. 
     

  • Event driven pauses – these are pauses caused by a change in slides, a demo of your product, checking your notes and so on.
     

  • Audience driven pauses – these events are caused by your audience, for example when they laugh and ask questions.