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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.

Read all entries in The Spoken Word
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2009