How many words in a four-to-six minute speech?
July 31, 2005 6:08 PM   Subscribe

How many words in a four-to-six minute speech?
posted by timeistight to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
When I speak publicly, I assume that 1 typed page of my writing (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt., to be exact!) equals 2 minutes, so for 4-6 minutes, I'd write 2-3 pages. 1 page also averages about 250-300 words for me, so my word range would be 500-900.
posted by scody at 6:15 PM on July 31, 2005

most speakers present at an average of 120 words per minute, so divide the total word count of your written speech by 120 to get its rough presentation length in minutes. - source

So approximately 480-720. My guess would've been two double spaced typed pages using 12 pica is approximately 500-600 words.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:18 PM on July 31, 2005

If you have a tendency to stray off of your notes and ad-lib at all, I'd aim for the short end of this. My rule of thumb is either 100 words per minute, or 1.5 minutes for every bullet point [in a longer talk]. So a talk would be a few pages long and in that time period -- with opening and conclusion -- cover only a few points with embellishment of each point.
posted by jessamyn at 6:52 PM on July 31, 2005

If, on the other hand, you're likely to be nervous (for example, if you don't do this very often or it's an unfamiliar crowd), then aim for the high side. Most people speak much much more quickly when they're nervous.

The real answer here is just to practice. Give the speech to your bathroom mirror, to the (muted) TV, to the dog. Keep a stopwatch in your pocket and don't look at it till you're done. Then rewrite and repeat. Get it down to right at 6 minutes every time you give it, and then your native nervousness will bring it down to 4:30.

It's probably a different kind of public speaking than you're talking about, but when I give a 20 minute talk I use 12 transparencies with ~60 words apiece, and ad-lib transitions between them. So that's roughly 250 words written where the audience can see them, and I say roughly twice that many.
posted by gleuschk at 7:10 PM on July 31, 2005

(250 words in 5 minutes, I mean, to try to address your question directly.)
posted by gleuschk at 7:11 PM on July 31, 2005

From what I remember of my Speech class in college, one single-spaced, 12-point font page would last 5 minutes (approximately 500 words). Depending on your audience (and their familiarity with your subject matter), you might want even less as you may need to explain something further depending on the visual feedback they're giving you.
posted by aiko at 7:36 PM on July 31, 2005

Five hundred words should do you nicely if you slow down and enunciate. For me, the right speed requires a slight (but conscious) effort to maintain; when I depart from my notes and start to improvise, I tend to speed up again, as my (clearly awesome) mental powers are diverted. I find that if you think you are speaking just a little too slowly, you are actually all right.

But yeah, practice. It sounds foolish, and you may even feel foolish, but it will help to have run through the speech thoroughly at least once, and you will know whether it is too short/long/boring/etc. Good luck!
posted by jenovus at 10:25 PM on July 31, 2005

Pauses can be very effective, as can changes in volume. If you want to make an important point, pause, then speak slowly and softly. The temptation is to do the reverse. You're not filling a vessel; you're planting seeds.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:21 PM on July 31, 2005

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