Are you a fast talker and your wpm rate (words per minute) is high? Can you compete easily with Steve Jobs who was considered an average speaker often ranging between 153 and 168 wpm? Or are you faster? Audiobooks tend to stay in the range of 150-160 words per minute as this is supposed to be easiest for listeners.
Does it make sense to speak faster?
Well, yes if you are in a hurry and your audience can understand you without any problems. But what if they are not familiar with the topic or the language you are using? Maybe you want to sell them something or motivate and inspire?
And, to really measure accuracy it’s much better to consider syllables per minute (spm) as some people prefer more academic or longer words and this gives a truer picture. In one of his Ted Talks, Hans Rosling averages 236 syllables per minute, which compared with Al Gore at 200 spm is faster. Both are understandable, but do rely on visual imagery to help the audience.
How fast you speak depends on a variety of factors!
…. such as; where you were born, your culture, education, family and profession, but also time pressure, nervousness, content and context. Faster speakers often appear more confident and have more charisma, but it’s your audience who should be the deciding factor.
Are you a slow speaker and want to increase your speed? Enunciating your words carefully and practicing tongue twisters can be a good way to get flow and clarity. You can also put something in your mouth like a pen or small stone to ensure your tongue and cheek muscles work harder. There are several scenes in the 1964 film “My Fair Lady” showing how the Cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, was taught to speak “proper” English by the arrogant phonetics professor, Henry Higgins.
Vary your technique to achieve the desired impact!
Getting your audience to understand and remember what you say relies on the range of techniques you use when speaking. Silence is excellent to emphasize a point and let people digest what you are saying, but regular and planned pauses also support meaning. They also allow your audience to have time to applause or laugh. And, are you speaking at a rate that is authentic for you? Variety of word speed is truly the spice in a good speech adding excitement, emotion and humour.
If you want to learn more how to improve your articulation and pronunciation, visit our website at Language Training