Here I discuss the importance of pace in public speaking, and outline one great exercise to allow you to get your pace of delivery just right.
By Olivia MacDonnell, Confident Speak
Every day when I’m working with clients on the art of great presence and communication, or studying the world’s greatest communicators and speakers on just what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
Pace in public speaking is one thing that’s so important to great presentation and communication.
I have to admit when I initially talk about the appropriate pace of delivery, people tend to get confused.
So here’s a fun way I found to give you an idea of your pace in public speaking:
Before we start let’s be clear.
- Pace is the speed at which we speak. It can be expressed in Words per Minute (WPM)
- Conversational speech can take place as quickly as 180-200 WPM
- 200 WPM is way too fast for presenting information
- So you should aim to speak at no more than 120-150 WPM
Presentation Tips: Pace of Delivery and the Word Per Minute Exercise
Set the timer on your phone and read the following 148 word passage at your natural rate and time yourself!
A good speech is one that is memorable. A good speech is usually not too long. One of the greatest virtues a speaker can possess is brevity. This begs the question: how does one go about constructing and delivering an address to an audience?
There are some basic principles that should be observed.
Firstly, never speak on a subject about which you know nothing or are in anyway unsure.
Secondly, do not be tempted to give an impromptu speech until you are very experienced.
And thirdly, try not to make too many points.
Finally, remember rehearsal is also extremely important. Many top speakers spend hours practising their delivery and this is time well spent. Paying particular attention to the voice is good advice because if you are not accustomed to speaking in public, then you will need to establish how to project and produce your voice effectively.
So, how did you do?
Remember, this is just a bit of fun.
Your pace will always vary, and will be dictated by your level of engagement and commitment and feeling towards your message.
This 148-word passage should take between 60 and 75 seconds to speak at a presentation pace of 120-150 WPM.
So if your delivery here was outside that recommended band, then it would be a good idea to practise this a couple more times and make the necessary changes. It could be a game-changer in the way you’re speaking to your audience—whether that’s the rest of your team at work, a boardroom of managers or directors, a few potential clients for a pitch presentation or even a packed auditorium.
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ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.