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Words Per Minute: What is the best WPM for your talk?

Feb 13, 2023, 14:51 PM by Linda Le-Wendling, MD


According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average U.S. English speaker rate is 150 words per minute (WPM). Using words with more syllables will give the impression you are speaking much faster. Experts recommend that you use shorter words for improved clarity.


Here are some common speaking speeds:
Speaking speeds

How fast do the hosts of several popular regional anesthesia podcasts speak?
RA podcast WPM


Here are some helpful recommendation on speaking:

1. Persuading an audience

  • When the audience does not agree with you, a faster WPM speed tends to be more persuasive.
  • When the audience agrees with you, a slower WPM speed tends to be more persuasive.

2. Projecting emotions

  • Slower speed projects charisma and conveys importance, seriousness, or even sadness. Be careful though—slower speeds may also convey a sense of tiredness in the speaker. Fun fact: JFK’s 1961 inaugural speech was 100 WPM.
  • Faster speeds convey passion, urgency, and excitement.

3. Change your speed to engage the listener.

4. Faster speeds increase the need to articulate better. Consider using shorter words.

5. Pause when changing tones, topics, or emphasizing key points.

6. The recommended number of words for a 15 minute talk is 2,000.


Let’s test your speech speed! 

Read the following paragraph and time your speech.

“The use of fascial plane blocks has exploded since the introduction of ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia into our practice. However, the number of different fascial plane targets has made it extremely difficult to determine what is the most effective option for the patients’ pain.”

So how long did it take you to recite the lines above? Think about your WPM's the next time you speak to patients, students, or an audience.

SecondsWord per minutes


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