Voice Tone Tips

How Fast Should You Speak to Sound Amazing?

Learn some tips on your speaking pace so you can communicate with your audience better.

How fast should you speak

How fast do you speak when someone stresses you out with an unexpected question? Do you find your words start to stumble over each other or is it hard to even locate a topic and started? Does your speaking pace depend on what you’re talking about? Or who you’re speaking with?

When we read aloud, we’re more inclined to speak slower than when we use our average speaking rate in day-to-day conversations, and most people tend to speak too fast during public speaking activities.

Getting your message across to your communication partner is easy, when it comes to basic needs, like “Can I get a double shot espresso?” or “Could you pass the salt, please.”

We hardly falter on these types of requests because the stakes are low and there is not much need for sophisticated language.

But relaying your message in a business deal, job interview, marriage proposal or moment where it feels like your status is hanging in the balance can often throw a spanner in our communication works and mess up our speaking speed.

In my work with 100s of elocution clients at Voice Science over the past 8 years, I have fielded numerous requests to bring a sense of calm to chaotic communication moments.

And this week, I got asked a question I’m often asked.

And because The Little Shot is here to build your communication in lots of little shots until you become a Big Shot communicator (in the nicest possible way), I figured, what better place than here to answer this question.

There is a lot of conflicting research out there about how fast and slow you should speak.

So, how fast should you speak?

The answer is not straight.

Communication requires a lot more nuanced behaviours than that.

The speed of your speaking should depend on the outcomes you need as well as your audience.

The best question to ask around speed of speaking is one that specifies what you need to achieve.

And if you want to achieve more trust from your listener when you are communicating, this Little Shot is for you.

Obviously, this will work, if you are being truthful.

No one likes a fibber so remember to stay transparent and clear.

It will always serve you well.

how fast should you speak

Does your voice build trust?

It’s become an established fact that the quality of your vocal sound signal can be a predictor of higher listener trust ratings.

We see from research that increased noise, roughness or breathiness in the voice depletes  your influence. 

But what about other factors like:

  • Speech rate
  • Vocal expression
  • Volume
  • Gender
  • Age?

A study from 2019 found that the integrity of your voice vibration, how high or low you speak on average, and the expression of your voice influence trust ratings. Nothing new there. We see once more it is fruitful to work on optimising your voice quality. BUT there is one new thing they uncovered…

The team found a FASTER and clear speaking speed had more impact on positive trust outcomes than gender, age, and vocal expression.

And it doesn’t come down to words per minute wpm. A lot of people think that the best way to calculate speaking speed is to divide the number of words in minutes. But the best rate to calculate this is to determine the number of syllables per minute.

Rate of speech matters.

How are you going with that?

Scroll to watch the 2-min summary of this blog below.

Do you use a rapid, slow or moderate speech pace? Would you rather speak slower or speak faster in your daily life?

Want to learn more communication skills to amplify your success?

If you want to improve your communication, you need to know this:
There are 6 basic bottlenecks that can hold you back from clear and confident communication.

You need to learn what your #1 bottleneck is before you can fix it.
Solving this problem for clients from all over the world is what I do all day, every day through my modern elocution services…

Discover your critical bottleneck that’s holding your confident speaking back- see more info here.

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  • Schirmer, A., Feng, Y., Sen, A. et al. (2020) Angry, old, male – and trustworthy? how expressive and person voice characteristics shape listener trust. PLOS ONE 15(2): e0229473.

About the Author

Dr Sarah Lobegeiger de Rodriguez is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact.

Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She assists executive communication clients all over the world as a communication consultant with strong expertise in CEO, Founder and Entrepreneur communication strategies.

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.


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