When I first started writing speeches, I struggled to know how many words to write for a speech of a given length. The only way I would know was to rehearse the speech and time how long it lasted.
I have since learned that I typically speak at an average of 80-100 words per minute (wpm) when presenting in public. This knowledge allows me to calculate quickly how many words I need to write i.e. 400-500 words for a five-minute speech.
Now not everybody speaks at the same pace. Some books quote the average speaking rate as around 125 words per minute but remember that there is a significant difference between normal conversation and public speaking. The best public speakers tend, on average to speak a bit slower so I would recommend that you start off with around 100 wpm and see how you get on. Most word processors have a word count function built into them, so it's easy to check how much you have written.
Of course, it goes without saying that when writing a speech of any length don't forget the basics. You need an engaging opening, a powerful conclusion and relevant body content. You also need to remember to rehearse it out loud. Give as much time to planning the delivery as you do to planning the content.
And now that you know how many words to use, you'll want to know what sort of content to put into your presentation for maximum impact. Enter your email address in the form below and we’ll send you a free copy of our practical guide to great presentation content plus regular presentation tips.
"I just wanted to leave you a quick testimonial about the presentation guide. I have a session I am running at an international conference this month and although I have done many presentations the word count calculator along with your very clear framework has given me a really good way of evaluating if I am on the right tracks. Thank you for a concise and really useful guide" - Sheryl Andrews
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