CALL Speaks: Daniel Johnson (Guest Blogger)

Speech Rate too Fast?


We’ve all heard speakers who talk so fast we are left in the dust. Listeners may end up ten words behind, especially if the topic is complex or unfamiliar. People talk so fast because others around them do this, because they think erroneously that others will not take the time to listen to them, and because they do not realize the listeners are struggling. In some cultures, speaking quickly is a sign of professional competence. The average speech rate in the mid-Atlantic states is 120 – 140 words per minute.It is faster in some places such as New York City, and slower in other locales. What matters is not how many words a speaker can get out, but how many (well-chosen) words are understood by the listener. Speech rate becomes a problem in any location when the listener does not understand. The speaker either may have to repeat himself, or some information gets ignored. In today’s blog, Daniel Johnson, a CALL mentor & Communication major, talks about the importance of speaking at an effective speech rate in public speaking:

“In my experience as both a mentor and a public speaker, I am constantly running into the issue of speech rate. Speaking at a steady pace is very important to effectively delivering a speech. What I have been noticing more and more is that people tend to speak at an accelerated rate when they are not comfortable in front of their audience, and I have done this myself. It is important to speak calmly and at a steady pace because, you want to keep your audience engaged in your topic and you as a speech giver.

            Keeping your audience engaged in your speech is the main goal while giving a public speech. With this information, it is important that you do not turn your audience off, or make them lose interest. With a speaking rate that is too fast, or a shaky voice that is not strong, an audience is going to lose confidence in their speaker. When an audience loses confidence in what is being told to them, they are not going to listen to what is being presented to them. This could potentially be a very serious issue, if the speech material is very important, and the speaker is not effective at delivering the information, then the important message could be lost.

            I have found a few ways to help and ensure that, as a public speaker and a mentor, the message being delivered is not lost due to an ineffective speaking rate. I find that by practicing and rehearsing your speech over and over again, and becoming really familiar with your topic you can seem more confident in delivery, even if you still feel nervous. Even practicing in front of an audience that you are already comfortable with, or visiting the CALL center to practice your speech can help you feel more confident in your speech giving. It is important to remember to pace yourself while giving a speech, to portray your message as effectively as possible.”

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