Is your speech rate too fast, too slow or just right?
And what is a normal speaking pace?
The answers are not straight forward.
Speech rate is the term given to the speed at which you speak. It's calculated in the number of words spoken in a minute. A normal number of words per minute (wpm) can vary hugely.
Studies show speech rate alters depending on the speaker's culture, geographical location, subject matter, gender, emotional state, fluency, profession or audience.
However, despite these variables, there are widely accepted guidelines.
Generally people are not conscious of their habitual speaking speed and if they are understood by those listening there is little reason to change. Their speech could be considered too slow or too fast by people outside of their normal environment but if they are not routinely communicating with them it doesn't really matter.
However changes of audience and speech purpose can force a need to become more aware of speaking speed.
For example - a shift from one part of a country to another, from a slower speaking area to a faster speaking one, will, through audience response, make a habitually slower speaker aware of their speech rate.
Similarly someone with naturally fast speech who takes a job requiring presentations to colleagues or customers, will find themselves having to slow down in order to communicate effectively.
If you're giving a speech or presentation, the concept of a normal speaking speed doesn't apply. What does is flexibility - the ability of the speaker to mix and match pace appropriately with speech content and the audience's ability to comprehend it.
Experience and audience reaction will teach you that a one-size-fits-all approach will be far less effective than careful variation in rate.
If you know you speak either too fast, too slowly or without speed variation then exercises to develop flexibility are what you need.
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