What are some methods to improve the speed in which I'm talking during presentations?

I find that my presentations are too slow and they need a boost.


I'll urge you to reconsider. Speaking slowly and clearly in a presentation goes a long way in retaining attention and interest from your audience.

I'll quote Paul Graham of Y-Combinator here "Err on the side of speaking slowly. At Rehearsal Day, one of the founders mentioned a rule actors use: if you feel you're speaking too slowly, you're speaking at about the right speed."

Presentations can feel "slow" if they lack passion or enthusiasm - but increasing the speed will do little to help on that front.

If you haven't yet - record a video of yourself delivering your pitch - it will tell you a lot about where things are falling flat.

Answered 8 years ago

ditto me in with the others.
The tempo which you feel is "too slow" is likely
"just right" for comprehension.

Saying something more quickly doesn't make it interesting.

If you feel you're being "boring" think about other ways to involve your audience. Ask them questions. Use visual aids, props...anything to drive home your point.

But speaking faster? No way! Be grateful that you have a
natural slow tempo. It's much harder (and more important) to slow down!

Answered 8 years ago

Presentation is a skill to be developed by an individual, The content of the presentation really matters for the speed, as well as the stage fear, the speed begins with your confident about the content what you present. You can always practice in front of the mirror to gain the confidence as well as to remove the stage fear. The body language matters a lot for the presentation too.

Answered 8 years ago

Hi! I respectfully disagree completely with Ryan, Wendy and Susan, and absolutely concur with Sundar and Donna. The real question is -- why do you think your presentations are too slow? Have you received feedback from your participants? Are you seeing the classic signs of boredom (restlessness, audience members not looking at you any longer, people leaving, side conversations among your audience)?

Here's what I think: it may not be the speed of your speaking that you need to improve; instead, it may be the tone, the content, or the dynamics.

Here's my reasoning: the rate of speed that you speak will ideally fall into a small range that allows for both audience comprehension, and audience engagement. If you are speaking slowly enough that your audience can hear and absorb what you're saying, but quickly enough that your audience isn't mentally disengaging, then your speed is fine.

The tone of your voice can make a huge difference. Tone is the quality of warmth, or determination, or coldness, or informativeness that you naturally bring to your speaking style. It includes the pitch of your voice--the natural range of melodic notes that your speaking voice encompasses. This is where you get a 'monotone' sound (if your voice tends to stay on one tonal note, never going down or up in ptich), or go too far the other way and sound like you're singing (if your notes vary wildly on a musical staff, going from a low voice to a high-pitched voice rapidly and often).

If you're monotone and putting your listeners to sleep, try adding more musicality to your voice.

Next, let's look at your dynamics. This includes how loudly or quietly you speak. Are you speaking so quietly that listeners have to strain to hear you and understand what you're communicating? This leads to rapid listener fatigue, and results in disengagement. Are you speaking loudly, and people tune out in order to retreat from your verbal assault? The best way to present is to speak loudly enough that the people in the back of the room (if you don't have a microphone) can clearly hear you. Aim your voice toward a person sitting in the last row. But remember to use occasional quieter moments and occasional louder moments to emphasize your content. Be a little quieter when you're wanting your audience to think and reflect on what you're saying, and a little louder when you want to really drill down on a concept and emphasize your point.

Then there is the content of your presentations. Of course, this is an entirely different topic that has more to do with the information you're presenting and how well it ties to the interests and goals of your audience. It may be that you need to do a bit more audience analysis and determine the most relevant and engaging content and then work with a presentation coach to determine how best to present that content.

Last, but not least, you may determine--based on participant feedback, along with your own self-critiquing through recording yourself both audibly and visually--that you truly do need to speed up your speaking. This is the point where I disagree with a few of the other commenters; it is entirely possible that you truly do speak too slowly when presenting. A slow-paced presentation is just as bad as (and often coexists with) a monotone speaking style.

A comfortable listening rate is 130-160 words per minute. Faster than that, and complex sentences or ideas get lost. Slower than that, and people's minds automatically jump ahead past what you're saying, mentally filling in the ends of your sentences for you. So if you find that you're speaking slower than 130 words per minute, you know you'll want to develop a faster pace.

Another thing to note is that the simpler your words are, the faster you can deliver them to your audience while keeping a high comprehension rate. If you have a very technical topic, you'll want to deliver your information more slowly, but if you're speaking at an elementary or middle school language level, bump your rate up. How do you determine this? In most word processing programs, you can go to Tools and use a grade-level analyzer; you can also search for a Flesch-Kincaid analyzer online. This tool will determine the approximate grade level that your writing is geared toward. The higher grade level of your writing, the slower you'll want to speak.

So how do you speed up? The best way is through complete familiarity with your topic, and thorough practice of your speech/presentation. The more you run through your presentation, the faster you will be able to deliver the ideas contained within, as you become more and more comfortable and familiar with the words that you say. This will avoid the pauses to think that can accompany being unfamiliar with your presentation. Those pauses can be presentation killers, giving your listeners far too much time to sit and wait while you think (even a moment's pause, if repeated often, becomes interminable).

One thing you can do is to carefully go through your script notes, writing down areas of natural pauses and underlining sentences where you can speed up. Practice varying your rate of speech so that your thoughtful or difficult concepts are spoken more slowly, and your easier or more humorous concepts are delivered quickly. Be sure to rewrite any areas that your tongue naturally wants to trip over; some words give people problems, and rewriting to completely avoid those words will benefit your overall rate of speech. Instead of struggling over saying the word "cellular" you can say "wireless" or "cell", for example.

Basically, it comes down to practice. Record yourself giving your presentation, record the length of time it took you to deliver your speech, and then do it again, with the goal of taking a few seconds off your time. Then do it again. Then again. Record yourself each time, and make notes on how to improve the next time. You will enjoy a significant improvement in your speaking rate and the time it takes to give your speech, and your audience will enjoy a more engaging presentation!

Answered 8 years ago

I agree with Ryan. As a former speaker agent, I found many speakers spoke too fast and their message was lost because you couldn't always process what they said. I call it the TLYT (talk like you are texting) phenomenon.

On the flip side, it works for certain speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk. I can't imagine him not speaking very fast. This is the exception though and not the norm. It works for Gary because he has passion in spades when he speaks.

Answered 8 years ago

While practice, practice, practice will help you speed up, the ultimate question is, does the audience share your same feedback? There are many questions that need to be understood to best help you, such as, What type of speech are you giving - ie. Is it purely research or factual based? Who is your audience? Is there a timeline for your speech? Is the material boring to you? Are you presenting from memory? And more... It would be best to understand your speech project before giving specific guidelines. Should you want to pursue a more in depth look into your presentation material and delivery I'm happy to help.

Answered 8 years ago


About 4 years back, I was literally petrified with the very idea of public speaking. Honestly, it took a lot for me to get over it. Now, my 2 cents worth of advice to you will be:

1. Bring passion to your speech. You are selling an idea, be passionate about it.

2. Respect the punctuation. Need I say more?!

3. Practice and put emphasis on the words or points you think are most important. Pause before and after a crucial idea, let it sink in.

4. Interact with your audience. Once you have delivered your deal maker point, engage with your audience and ask them questions. Keep it simple yet engaging so you get multiple response.

5. Once you are able to imagine that your presentation is nothing but you literally selling people a product (your idea in this case), you will understand the need for passion more than anything else.

In case you wish to discuss further, feel free to get in touch.



Answered 8 years ago

Practice your presentation in a dim, soundproof room. Forget your notes and slides. Walk around. Pace. Visualize being on stage. Feel the momentum building up inside of you. Use your vocal range. Use your body.

Go through your talk. Then do it again. And again. And again.

Always visualize being on that stage. Always move. If you do that, you'll find the pace that is right for you and, in turn, for your audience.

Answered 7 years ago

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