Auctioneers have a fast rate of speech

Convey Emotions with Your Rate of Speech

If variety is the spice of life, then it it could be said that varying your rate of speech is the salt and pepper of presentations.

I think we all agree, vocal variety makes words sound more interesting. A deliberate change in pitch, volume, and tempo makes a presentation more engaging. It allows the presenter to convey different emotions.

Let’s take a closer look at one of these elements: rate of speech or tempo.

In normal conversation, most people speak between about 120 to 140 words per minute. To find your own baseline, record a few minutes of speech. Then divide the number of words spoken by the number of minutes. 

Presentations and public speeches are often delivered at a slightly faster rate. Sir Ken Robinson’s popular TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” came in at 165 words per minute, while Simon Sinek delivered his TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” at 170 words per minute.

When you speak faster than usual, your message comes across as more energetic. And your audience perceives you as enthusiastic.

Rate of Speech influences people's perception of a speaker.

To keep things interesting for your listeners, vary your speed depending on the emotion you want to get across.

To project enthusiasm, passion, urgency, or excitement, speak faster than your baseline. Speak slower to project calmness, control, and formality.

But be careful: When you vary your pace, stay within a bandwidth around your baseline. Speak too fast and your audience will perceive you as nervous, tense, and anxious. Speak too slowly and the audience may become bored and drift off.

If you think you could improve any aspect of your presentations, I’d be happy to help you. In just 20 minutes, I can give you some pointers to get you started. Hop on my calendar for a discovery call to find out how you can present even more effectively than you do today.

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