Guest Posting: What’s Your Rate of Speech? by Kate Peters

Kate Peters is the Founder and President of Vocal Impact, Inc. a network of communication impact professionals dedicated to guiding and inspiring leaders to be real and relevant heroes in their own stories and the stories of their organizations or causes; heroes who transform hearts and minds, and create solutions for a vibrant and peaceful world, every day. Read her full bio here.

Kate PetersLanguages spoken in Southern India are among the world’s fastest languages. In fact the native speakers of one of those languages,Tamil, speak faster with each other than the native speakers of any other language. They also tend to speak English faster than native English speakers. The world record for the fastest talking woman is held by Fran Cohen, a New Yorker, who can talk at about 600 words per minute. Go ahead and listen to her telling the story of The Three Little Pigs, and you may get a feeling for what Tamil native speakers speaking English sound like to other English speakers.

In the US, researchers have found that the rate of speech varies from state to state, with the fastest talkers in the state of Oregon, while the slowest are in Mississippi. The rate of speech in the US is picking up, but it is unlikely ever to be as fast as Tamil.

How fast is fast? Native speakers of English tend to speak from 140-165 words per minute. Auctioneers speak 250 words per minute. As you may have noticed if you have ever been to an auction, native English speakers have a hard time hearing what’s said by an auctioneer, and by anyone when the rate is faster than 180 wpm. However, most 8th graders in the US are now expected to read 150 wpm by the winter of their school year.

If you think you might be vying for Fran’s position or if you are from South India and your communication impact is suffering because you speak fast (and you don’t want to set a record) you can find out how to pace your voice just right by reading my post, Are you talking too fast?

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