How fast do you speak when someone stresses you out with an unexpected question? Do you find your words start to stumble over each other or is it hard to even locate a topic and started?

Getting your message across to your communication partner is easy, when it comes to basic needs, like “Can I get a double shot espresso?” or “Could you pass the salt, please.”

We hardly falter on these types of requests because the stakes are low and there is not much need for sophisticated language.

But relaying your message in a business deal, job interview, marriage proposal or moment where it feels like your status is hanging in the balance can often throw a spanner in our communication works.

In my work with 100s of elocution clients at Voice Science over the past 8 years, I have fielded numerous requests to bring a sense of calm to chaotic communication moments.

And this week, I got asked a question I’m often asked.

And because The Little Shot is here to build your communication in lots of little shots until you become a Big Shot communicator (in the nicest possible way), I figured, what better place than here to answer this question.

There is a lot of conflicting research out there about how fast and slow you should speak.

So how fast should you speak?

The answer is not straight.

Communication requires a lot more nuance than that.

The speed of your speaking should depend on the outcomes you need as well as your audience.

The best question to ask around speed of speaking is one that specifies what you need to achieve.

And if you want to achieve more trust from your listener when you are communicating, this Little Shot is for you.

Obviously, this will work, if you are being truthful.

No one likes a fibber so remember to stay transparent and clear.

It will always serve you well.

Does your voice build trust?

It’s become an established fact that the quality of your vocal sound signal can be a predictor of higher listener trust ratings.

We see from research that increased noise, roughness or breathiness in the voice depletes  your influence. 

But what about other factors like:

  • Speech rate
  • Vocal expression
  • Volume
  • Gender
  • Age?

A study from 2019 found that the integrity of your voice vibration, how high or low you speak on average, and the expression of your voice influence trust ratings. Nothing new there. We see once more it is fruitful to work on optimising your voice quality. BUT there is one new thing they uncovered…

The team found a FASTER and clear speaking speed had more impact on positive trust outcomes than gender, age, and vocal expression.

how fast should you speak

Rate of speech matters.

How are you going with that?

Scroll to watch the 2-min summary of this blog below.

Make sure you follow me on Instagram at @sarageiger.co for daily inspiration for your speaking.

sara geiger

Do you use a rapid, slow or moderate speech pace? Let me know in the comments below!

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REFERENCES

Schirmer, A., Feng, Y., Sen, A. et al. (2020) Angry, old, male – and trustworthy? how expressive and person voice characteristics shape listener trust. PLOS ONE 15(2): e0229473.