How to Pace Yourself for Optimal Effectiveness in Public Speaking

Have you ever been told that you talk too quickly or slowly during a presentation? Have you ever wondered How to Pace Yourself While Speaking For Optimal Effectiveness?

Pacing is a very important aspect of public speaking that is often overlooked. After all, if you’re too fast, your audience may miss key points or become overwhelmed. If you’re too slow, they may tune out entirely. The key is to find a happy medium, a pace that keeps your listeners engaged without bombarding them with information.

How To Pace Yourself While Speaking

Learn How To Pace Yourself While Speaking

Public speaking can be a daunting task. It’s no wonder so many people are terrified of it! But with the right approach, you can overcome your fear and deliver an effective speech. In this article, we’ll discuss how to pace yourself when speaking in order to make sure your message is delivered effectively. You don’t want to speak too quickly and overwhelm your audience, nor do you want to drone on and on without taking a breath. By pacing yourself, you’ll ensure that your listeners stay interested in what you have to say.

When you’re nervous, it’s natural to speak quickly. But speaking too fast will only make your audience more anxious, and they’ll miss important points of your speech. Many individuals become nervous when giving a speech, causing it to be difficult for the audience to comprehend what they’re saying. Learn how to pace yourself when speaking. Understand the importance of practicing and preparing in order for skills such as pacing to develop, and look at ways to avoid talking too fast on the day of the presentation.

So how do you ensure that you pace yourself effectively during a presentation?

Pacing refers to the rate at which you speak, and how this impacts the delivery of your message. When you speak too quickly, you may lose your audience’s attention or fail to deliver your message effectively. On the other hand, speaking too slowly can make you seem bored or uninterested in what you’re saying. This may take some practice, but it’s worth it!

The art of pacing as a speaker may be one of your most useful weapons. It can help you to keep your audience engaged, deliver your message effectively, and make a lasting impression.

Am I speaking too fast or too slow?

Great question! The ultimate aim is to converse at a conversational speed. It’s also crucial to avoid speaking too quickly or measuring out each word equally: it might appear monotonous and uninteresting. The right combination of slow, fast, and medium speed makes your speech more engaging.

Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect pace for your next presentation:

When To Adjust Your Speed?

Fast: urgency, an indication of passion, emotion, and excitement.

Slow:  sadness, confusion, an indication of importance, the seriousness of a point or the introduction of new ideas (helps the audience grasp what you are saying)


How to Pace Yourself When Speaking

Speaking quickly can make your presentation appear monotonous and uninteresting. When you’re speaking quickly, initially it is exciting for the audience, but after a minute or two, it stops being stimulating and becomes overwhelming.

When you talk slowly, it can pique the attention of your audience and aid them in comprehending every word, but a whole presentation at a slow speed would bore your audience: they will grow weary waiting for you to get to the point.

Mix it up! Maintain the majority of your talk in the ordinary conversation range, then change your pace to emphasize points in your message and influence the emotions of your audience.

Speech Rate Guidelines

Speech rate varies according to the speaker’s culture, geographical location, topic matter, vocabulary selection and usage (simple short sentences vs complex), fluency, use of pauses, gender, age, emotional state, health, career path choice, audience presence or absence. However, despite these variables, there are widely accepted guidelines.

How can you tell if you are speaking too quickly, or too slow? You might believe your current speed is ideal in your head, but it’s probably not. Finding out your speech rates can be really useful in this situation.

Speech rate refers to a person’s habitual speaking speed. It’s calculated through counting the normal number of words they say per minute, and just like people, words per minute (wpm) can vary hugely.

When it comes to finding the right pace for your public speaking, there are a few general guidelines you can follow.

These are:

  • Slow speech is usually regarded as less than 110 wpm, or words per minute.
  • Conversational speech generally falls between 120 wpm at the slow end, to 160 – 200 wpm in the fast range.
  • Fast speech is more than 160 wpm
  • People who read books for radio or podcasts are often asked to speak at 150-160 wpm.
  • Auctioneers or commentators who practice speed speech are usually in the 250 to 400 wpm range.

Still having a difficult time imagining these speeds? We’ve pulled together a list of 7 TED Talks with varying speeds, to help you get a better idea of the effect it can have on your presentation. 

Examples of speeds:


How to Pace Yourself When Speaking

Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Amy Tan are all examples of fantastic (and well-paced) speakers, listen to them and see what a well-paced speaker sounds like.

To be a well-paced speaker, first, aim to speak at a conversational speed. This means not speaking too quickly or too slowly, but rather somewhere in the middle. Second, try to mix things up a bit and vary your pace throughout your presentation. This will help keep your audience engaged and interested in what you have to say. Finally, remember that how fast or slow you speak should always be based on the content of your message. If you’re delivering a serious message, for example, you’ll want to speak a bit slower than if you’re sharing something more lighthearted.

If you need to adjust your speech rate, first figure out how fast or slow you speak. There are various methods you can use to figure out your speech rate.

Finding Your Speech Rate

Counting your words for a few minutes of conversation is one of the most straightforward methods to understand your speech rate.

Speaking Rate (wpm) = Total words / # of minutes

You may either record a few minutes of your presentation on your smartphone (or any other recording device), or watch one of your own videos.

Pro tip: If you use a mobile device, have it convert your speech to text. Talk for one minute to capture the text then cut and paste the text into a word counter.

Practice Makes Perfect

Pace yourself while speaking

The More You Practice, More You Will Become Comfortable While Speaking.

The more you practice, the better you’ll be at gauging how quickly or slowly you should be speaking. This will help ensure that your presentation flows smoothly and that your audience remains interested in what you have to say. Practice makes perfect! You’ll be able to adjust your speech rate accordingly and make sure your words are delivered at the right pacing.

The simplest approach to counter the push to get through your presentation is to rehearse it gradually ahead of time. Slowing down the presentation will make it seem more natural. You will always tend to speed up in front of an audience, so practice a bit slower than you actually want to talk. Make a mental note of the content, structure, and tone that you want to employ in your speech. Practice it at least three times before you deliver it live. The more familiar you are with your material, the less nervous you’ll be, and the longer you will mumble into your script.

When you’re practicing, make sure to enunciate clearly; tongue twisters or other vocal workouts are also good options. Make sure your mouth is open wide enough to allow sound to escape freely. Keep the size of your audience in mind; practice projecting to fill the space where you will give the speech.

You can also work on where you should pause in your speech as you practice it. This is a vital component of pacing yourself; pausing will allow you to catch your breath and not rush headfirst through your material. Pauses may also be used to build suspense and interest, as well as to draw people’s attention to key ideas. Whenever you want the audience to take a pause and absorb what you’ve said, pause.

What are some of your struggles when it comes to setting your pace? We would love to help you with one of our future articles. Please contact us HERE.

Are you looking for more speaking and training opportunities? Schedule a Free consultation HERE

Public Speaking Course Free Demo


Pace Your Presentation

How to speed up while speaking

Control The Speed Of Your Presentation, That Will Help You To Keep Going.

Keep breathing and stay relaxed throughout the stressful period. After crunch time arrives, do some relaxation exercises to help you keep calm. Remember that your mind will tend to speed up, and adrenaline may be distorting your perception of time; talk a little slower than you think you need to. Even if it turns out to be longer than normal speech, it will prevent you from appearing anxious or hurried.

If you can control the speed of your presentation, speak clearly and pause appropriately, it will be far more likely to succeed. You’ll seem more self-assured, and your audience will have a better chance of comprehending and reacting to what you’re saying.

Know Your Audience.

Know Your Audience Before Your Speech

Make Sure You Know Your Audience Before Going To Stage.

This is important for a number of reasons, but it will come in handy when you’re trying to gauge how fast or slow you speak. If you’re presenting to a group of high school students, for example, you’ll want to speak at a slightly faster pace than if you’re presenting to a group of senior citizens. Consider the age, attention span, and general interests of your audience when trying to determine an appropriate speech rate.

You should also keep in mind that how quickly or slowly you speak may vary depending on the situation. If you’re giving a formal presentation, you’ll want to speak more slowly and carefully than if you’re giving a speech off-the-cuff.

By taking the time to understand your audience and the situation, you’ll be able to better determine how fast or slow you should speak.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are some additional tips for when you’re speaking to audiences that will help improve your overall experience.

Bonus Tips

1. Take a deep breath and relax

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s worth repeating. When you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget to breathe. Taking a few deep breaths before you start speaking will help you calm down and relax. It will also help to prevent you from rushing through your material.

You can also take the help of Public Speaking Cheatsheet

2. Know your material

This ties in with the first tip. If you know your material inside and out, you’ll be less likely to rush through it or get tongue-tied. It’s also important to practice your presentation before you give it. This will help you get a feel for how long it will take, and how to pace yourself accordingly.

3. Use pauses effectively

Pauses are your friend. They give you a chance to catch your breath, and can also be used to emphasise important points. Just make sure not to overuse them; too many pauses will make your presentation drag on.

4. Practice, practice, practice

This is probably the most important tip on the list. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with your material. And the more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to pace yourself and deliver a successful presentation.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of pacing yourself when speaking. Just remember to relax, breathe, and practice. With a little effort, you’ll be giving speeches like a pro in no time.


Online Public Speaking Course

Learn how to pace yourself while speaking along with other essentials which will definitely help you to become better at public speaking. Schedule a Free Consultation Call with our team to understand about our public speaking course.

This online public speaking course is the perfect place to start. Taught by an experienced TED Talk lecturer and USC professor, this eight-week course will give you the skills you need to inject storytelling and dynamism into your speeches. 

Summary :

When giving a speech, it is important to pace yourself in order to ensure that your message is delivered effectively. You don’t want to speak too quickly and overwhelm your audience, nor do you want to drone on and on without taking a breath. By pacing yourself, you’ll ensure that your listeners stay interested in what you have to say.

Share This Post On:

widget-add to any

About Author

Jeremiah O`Brian
Master Teacher  | USC School of Dramatic Arts

Jeremiah O’Brian is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. His exceptionally diverse background – from gritty nuts-and-bolts firefighting to film and theatre credits and accolades – is bolstered by his several graduate degrees.

Some Related Blogs

8 Public Speaking Tips To Hook An Audience



Reading Time:11 minutes
Dos and Don'ts of Public Speaking

8 Dos and Don'ts in Public Speaking: Expert Advice to Be a Master Speaker



Reading Time:11 minutes