What Is A Good Speed For A Speech?

Keir Starmer Conference Speech 2017

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Sep 26

We typically expect our new public speaking clients to speak at the faster end of the spectrum. So they probably use 150 to 170 words a minute as they give a speech. And, consequently, they sound breathless. Plus, what's more, their voice quality is less sound than it could be. But then, they ask, "what is a good speed for a speech?" And, of course there's no categorical answer. We are all different. Because some speakers can pass off a rapid delivery and others just can't.

Good speed for a speech

What Is A Good Speed For A Speech

So, you can imagine our surprise when we heard the Keir Starmer speech at the Labour Party conference this morning. The speed of his delivery makes slow and steady appear a bit rushed. This speech was seriously slow.

Good Speed For A Speech? Slow And Steady

He gave his morning speech in a well-timed 13 minutes or thereabouts. Quite a reasonable length for the Shadow Brexit Secretary. But his word count, at just over 1,000 words, was very low. And it showed in his delivery. Because he averaged only 80 words a minute in this speech. That is very slow indeed.

Now, we always look to be generous. Was he expecting a ten minute speech, but was asked to eke out the time a bit? Perhaps. Or, was there an autocue problem? The Labour conference had autocue speech prompter problems last year. And, of course, many speakers have suffered from a teleprompter freeze in the past.

We can't be sure that there was a technical glitch. So, maybe this is just the Keir Starmer conference speech style. We will have to wait and see.

Slow Delivery Of Good Content

And the speech itself? Certainly a slow and steady pace hid some gems. He managed to lash the government with great frequency and that undoubtedly pleased his conference audience.

But you know, and I know, that millions of working people cannot. Whether you’re in the front seat with Theresa May, or in the backseat with Boris Johnson, there’s nothing patriotic about joy-riding our country’s economy off a cliff.

and, then we heard,

The Government on the other hand spent their summer squabbling in public. So dysfunctional had it all become, that the Prime Minister had to fly to Florence on Friday, only to accept Labour’s position on transitional arrangements. Let’s see if that survives contact with Tory party conference.

Yes, he had some good material here with which to engage his conference audience. And his frequent use of the proverbial "cliff-edge," worked in the context of the Brexit options.

You can always work out what's a good speed for a speech with a public speaking training course or coaching session. Because with a day's intensive training you'll have plenty of chance to hear yourself and others practising speech techniques. So, please don't hesitate to get in contact when you are ready.

Yes, Please

Get The Newsletter Today

Telling It Straight is our very own public speaking tips newsletter. Packed with skills tips to help you with your next speech, why not receive it this month?


About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK.

  • […] the Time to Market newsletter, Telling It Straight. Because you might well want to know whet is a good speed for a speech? And, when you are ready to boost your own public speaking skills, then you can always take […]

  • >