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How fast do you speak?

In conversational English, the average rate of speech for men is 125 words per minute. Women average 150 words per minute (but let’s be fair: that’s not even one extra word every two seconds). Television newscasters frequently hit 175+ words per minute. Why do speakers need to know this? If you know your rate of speech and the length of time you are to speak, you can write to fill the time allotted. For example, if you’re given 10 minutes and you speak at a rate of 150 wpm, then you should write 1,500 words and no more. Then, assuming you do not stray widely from your “script,” you’ll hit your target time, plus or minus 30 seconds, every time.

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Posted Saturday, February 28, 2009 | Link to entry

4 Fundamentals of speaking

In a previous post (1-11-08) I said you must determine what you want your audience to think, feel, or do as a result of your presentation and be able to write that desired outcome on the back of a business card. So once you’ve succinctly defined your desired outcome, you must decide what techniques you’ll use. There are hundreds of techniques, but they all fall under an umbrella of four fundamentals: you speak to 1) inform, 2) persuade, 3) inspire, or 4) entertain. It can be any one, or a combination of two, three, or all four of these, but it must be at least one. Therefore, your business card statement of purpose will read: “I will persuade the audience to (complete the sentence),” or “I will entertain the audience by (complete the sentence),” or “I will inform the audience of (complete the sentence),” or “I will inspire the audience by (complete the sentence).

Want to learn more? Consider Connect With Any Audience and my speaking skills seminars Elements of Eloquence and Eight Essentials of Effective Speaking.

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Posted Monday, March 31, 2008 | Link to entry

What’s your reason for speaking?

Before you speak or write a single word, you must determine what you want your audience to think, feel, or do as a result of your presentation. You may think this is common sense. It is, but it is not common practice. Most speakers skip this critical step, assuming “I know my material. I’ll say it and the audience will hear it; if they hear it, they’ll figure out the message.” Wrong. Your purpose will never be clearer to a listener than it is to you. That’s why I recommend you apply the “business card test.” As noted in a posting below (1-11-2008) you should write on the back of your business card exactly what you want the audience to think, feel, or do as a result of your presentation. Why use the back of a business card? See “The Business Card Test” entry below.

Want to learn more? Consider Connect With Any Audience and my speaking skills seminars Elements of Eloquence and Eight Essentials of Effective Speaking.

Read all entries in The Spoken Word
Posted Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Link to entry

How long does it take?

As a speechwriter, I am often asked “How long does it take to write a speech?” On average, I allow an hour of writing time for every minute of the finished speech. Therefore, a 45-minute keynote can take a full work week of writing time. Of course, most speakers rarely need to start from scratch, as most have standard stories that they insert into every speech. But if you have no stories, examples, or illustrations already in hand, if you are hiring a speechwriter, remember one minute of speech = one hour of writing.

This point is covered at greater length in my speaking skills seminar Elements of Eloquence.

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Posted Saturday, March 08, 2008 | Link to entry

The first 60 seconds

In his book You Are the Message, Roger Ailes says “Research shows that we start to make up our minds about other people within seven seconds of first meeting them. In the first seven seconds, we also trigger in each other a chain of emotional reactions, ranging from reassurance to fear.” Ailes says all this takes place in seven seconds; others say it occurs within the first minute or two. So whether it’s seven seconds or even seventy, you must start strong, because the audience is judging you…just that fast.

Want to learn more? Consider Connect With Any Audience and my speaking skills seminars Elements of Eloquence and Eight Essentials of Effective Speaking.

Read all entries in The Spoken Word
Posted Thursday, March 06, 2008 | Link to entry

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