When we communicate with others, there is a preferred speed at which people who are listening have the highest amount of connectability—the ability to hear, comprehend, and understand our words. By communicating confidently, we build an intimate connection with our clients, prospects, and audiences.
Listenable Rate Of Speech: 160 Words Per Minute
The one-hundred-sixty word rate adds an element of dignity to your voice. The one-hundred-sixty word rates also gives a sound image to your audience that establishes both you and your company as efficient and well-organized. To give the audience the kind of impression of yourself and your company that you wish, speak correctly, speak at one-hundred-sixty — that’s one-hundred sixty words per minute. Get out a stop watch and see where your listenable rate of speech is!
Read the following passage out loud and time yourself:
As a representative of your organization, it is important that you speak clearly. That means that you must articulate. It also means that you must speak so that you can be understood. Although there is no set rate of speech, most expert speakers talk at between one-hundred-forty and one-hundred-sixty words per minute. That is a good speed for verbal communication. It is not too fast to be understood. It does not give the listener the impression that you are under pressure nor is it too slow.
The one-hundred-sixty word rate adds an element of dignity to your voice. The one-hundred-sixty word rate also gives a sound image to your audience that establishes both you and your company as efficient and well-organized. To give the audience the kind of impression of yourself and your company that you wish, speak correctly, speak at one-hundred-sixty—that’s one-hundred sixty words per minute.
If you read the passage above in 60 seconds, you are reading at 160 words-per-minute, which is the preferred speed. If you’re at 75 seconds, you could be considered a bore by your audience or the person with whom you are communicating. If you read the above passage faster than 60 seconds, your audience or person with whom you are communicating just might consider you a salesperson—the stereotypical fast-talking, non-listening kind.
Many first-time OUT LOUD readers read much faster than 60 seconds. Many of us speak just a little too fast, period. We’re too busy telling versus having a conversation.
Chuck’s Professional Pointer:
Speak in a tone and speed to your audience or client as if you were reading a Dr. Seuss book out loud to a small group of children.
Seussem’—Gain That Communication Connection
In an effort to speak like a polished speaker or presenter, try this technique: speak in a tone and speed to your audience or client as if you were reading a Dr. Seuss book out loud to a small group of children.
Imagine for a moment: you have a small gathering of children sitting around you on the floor, looking up at you as you prepare to read your most favorite Dr. Seuss book. “One fish… two fish… red fish… blue fish!” Or… “Did you ever fly a kite… in bed? Did you ever walk… with ten cats on your head?” As I say to my audiences that I train in public speaking, “You Seussem’” (your clients and audiences)!
Now, what Seussem’ means is that you are speaking at 140-160 words-per-minute. You articulate, you use a correct voice pitch, pause, and pace. Pitch means your voice quality, pause means using silence to “cliff hang” or emphasize a point, and pace is the correct listenable-rate-of-speech you should be at.
Make Better Presentations By Becoming a Better Communicator
Many of my students or audience participants will go as far as taking the presentation they use in their job and read it out loud into a digital recorder. Then they play it back and are able to check their own listenable rate-of-speech pitch, pause, and pacing. By listening to themselves, they are able to coach themselves by refining their presentation over and over again.
I wish for all of you the wonderful ability to communicate confidently. For most, this is a learned skill and, by implementing these steps in this short training, you have taken that one step that I hope will lead to many others, others that will help you communicate confidently with all those people you touch with your words.