Absolutely not. Some people talk a bit slower; others a bit faster. However, there is a general rate of speed which everyone should fall within. This rate of speed lies somewhere between 140 and 180 words per minute. |
Whether you are on the podium or just in conversation, your listeners will have difficulty keeping up with you if you speak too quickly. On the other hand, a speed which is too slow will either put your audience to sleep or move them in the direction of their iPhones.
To test your rate of speech, read the following paragraphs out loud with a timer. Set it for 1 minute and then begin. (If you are not good at sight-reading, practice it out loud several times in advance.)
1. They tell us, Sir, that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? If you finished the 4 paragraphs in a minute or less, you need to learn to slow down. Those 4 paragraphs consist of 196 words. If, on the other hand, you were unable to make it to the 3rd paragraph, you need to learn to speed up.
2. Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inactivity? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power...
3. The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery!
4. Our chains our forged, their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come!
One of the best means of correcting your speed is with voice training. By learning how to use your chest cavity to power and amplify your speaking voice, you will then have total control over your speed. In addition, you will discover a richer, warmer, deeper voice in the process.
Do not try the patience of your listeners. If you want others to heed your words, do not make them struggle to pay attention to what you are saying by being either too fast or too slow.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. To get started improving your presentation skills, click Voice Training and Presentation Skills for Nancy's free ebook.
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