When I first started writing speeches, I struggled to get the correct length because I didn’t know how many words in a speech of a given length. The only way I would know was by writing my script and then rehearsing it, using a timer to measure how long my presentation lasted.
Why speaking to time is important
Nobody appreciates a presenter who overruns, especially if they don’t seem to care. It’s seen as disrespectful both to the audience and to any other speakers that come after you. One of the secrets of speaking to time is to know how many words in a speech of a given length.
I have since learned that I typically speak at an average of 90-120 words per minute (wpm) when presenting in public. This knowledge allows me to calculate how many words I need to write e.g. 1,1350 – 1500 words in a fifteen-minute speech or 500-600 words in a five-minute speech.
Now, not everybody speaks at the same pace, so the number of words in a speech will vary a little from speaker to speaker. Some books quote the average speaking rate as around 125 words per minute (wpm) but remember that there is a BIG difference between the pace of normal conversation and a speech to an audience. The best public speakers talk much slower when addressing an audience.
Calculate how many words in a speech
I would recommend that you start by using 100 wpm for your how many words in a speech calculation, 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, when writing a speech of any length you shouldn’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.
There’s more to writing a great speech than knowing how many words in a speech
So, now that you know how to calculate how many words in a speech, you’ll want to know what sort of content to put into your presentation for the greatest impact. Enter your email address in the form below, and I’ll send you a free copy of my 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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