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Pace

How to make sure the speed of your presentation is right.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

An important step in becoming an effective presenter is to make sure that the speed of your delivery is appropriate.

Your pace will vary, but if you speak too quickly the audience will have difficulty following your talk, too slowly and they may lose interest.

It’s important to pause at regular points, either to indicate a break in the natural flow of the talk or after highlighting a significant point. This gives the audience time to process what you have said.

If speakers are nervous, it’s possible they might speak too slowly in a hesitant style that has little flow.

Good speakers often group words and phrases together into chunks of information. When combined with appropriate pauses, this can make things clearer for the audience.

Aim to keep your speech at a steady pace in your presentations. When practising, you could try changing the speed so it’s slightly faster – this can show passion, urgency and excitement. If you want to convey caution, importance or sadness, try making your pace slightly slower.

Your task

Look at the opening part of a talk below. The speaker was very hesitant and the talk didn’t flow well (as shown by the gaps between words).
Try forming more suitable word groupings such as ‘Good afternoon, everyone’ and add punctuation (commas and full stops) to make the talk more fluent.
Good afternoon ……..everyone…………….. I’m Jeff ………… and I work for …………………..XYZ Services…………….a web designer………………….based in London……………. Many thanks …………………..for inviting me …………………………..to speak to you today………………..In my talk……………………..I’m going ………………………..to make some proposals …………………..on how you could ……………………………..update your online marketing……………………. If you have any questions……………………I’ll be happy …………………………to take them ………………………..at the end of the talk. So let’s start ……………….by showing you the latest….…… figures from a recent report.
When you have done this, read the extract yourself at what you feel is an appropriate pace and time how long it takes. The extract is 74 words long. The average pace of speech is about 150 to 160 words per minute (Nikitina 2011) so this extract should take about 30 seconds to read.
Discuss with your fellow learners how long the extract takes for yourself and how you think it should be grouped.

References

Nikitina, A. (2011) Successful Public Speaking. Bookboon

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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