How many words should a speech be?

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clocks-royalty-freeKeeping to time is critical in a presentation.  If our presentation is too long we risk running overtime which is unprofessional and disadvantages other speakers.  We feel disgruntled if we ourselves have to cut short our presentation because another speaker has spoken over time.  So it is good practice to understand exactly how many words should a presentation contain to meet the time limit.

How to calculate how many words are required for a presentation or speech.

  1. Firstly find out what is the time limit with your speech or presentation.
  2. Normal speech speed is 100 to 120 words per minute so for a 10 minute presentation aim for approx 1100 words.

4 Things to watch out when calculating the timing of our presentations:

  1. When we are nervous we tend to speak faster but instead of packing in more material to compensate, aim to be mindful of this and slow down the speaking rate, remember to breathe deeper, pause, this will help.  When we speak publicly we should slow our rate of speech down slightly to allow correct pronunciation of each word. Speaking quickly leads to mumbling or poor pronunciation which can lead to an audience misunderstanding of the message.
  2. If your speech has a lot of humour you must let the audience finish laughing before you start speaking. Anticipate some time for this, so reduce the number of words accordingly.
  3. If your presentation contains audience participation for example asking for feedback from the audience, be sure to allow plenty of extra time for this.  Typically audience members with be lengthy in their explanation, because they may be nervous or their comment might need clarification.  It’s really rude and can be construed as arrogant to cut a speaker short if you have already invited them for their feedback.
  4. If your presentation contains a practical exercise allow a generous amount of time for that too.   Give warnings when their time is nearly up to keep to your schedule.  If they have left their seat it also takes time for the audience to find and settle again.

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By |2017-05-19T00:20:07+00:00February 8th, 2014|Business Communication, Public Speaking Tips|0 Comments

About the Author:

Elaine Doyle is a Communication Specialist. Working with businesses and individuals, Elaine creates strategic communication plans that speak to and influence target markets, grow brands and build relationships. A renown public speaking coach Elaine teaches professional speaking skills to inform, influence and inspire.

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