Rates of Speaking

Day 097 Week 14 Q2 Saturday, April 6, 2024

Can we speak faster than we can listen? Do we speak more quickly than others can process? What is a good rate for speaking? Assuming you are a creative outlier, a term used to describe someone with a particularly active and imaginative mind, which means you have more on your mind than if you were not, are you sensitive to your rate of communication? Do you speed up when you are excited? Of course, you do. But when you visually check in on your audience, whether it be one or many, have you lost them? And when you are speaking to a computer for transcription purposes, what about that rate?

Could it be that the rates of speaking and understanding are intertwined? Or is it just a coincidence? Consider this: The computer can also speak to you; how does that rate compare? Computers using text-to-speech technology have advanced significantly, offering a variety of voices, dialects, and languages. But what about the nature of the communication? Is it simple or complex? Familiar or new? And most importantly, what is the state of mind of the listener?

It appears that the ideal speaking rate for effective communication falls between 100 and 200 words per minute. However, for complex information, it’s best to aim for the lower end of this range. Considering that most creative outliers tend to communicate complex ideas, it’s advisable to stay in the lower half of the range for maximum impact.

Coincidently, this also appears to be the rate at which computer transcription also works best, at least for me. What is wonderful about this is the forced slowing down of dictating, which has generated the terrific side effect of making me speak at a better rate to a live audience or at least a television audience.

I am developing a cadence range that is appropriate for all of my communication, and it is the same range—hovering around 100 words per minute or 100 WPM! This seems to work well for dictating and presenting, and it is also slow enough to be interruptible, which is another good feature.

It does seem that there needs to be a matching of rates of speaking and listening to ensure good communication. Assuming this is true, then spending more effort to try to optimize this matching could generate large rewards.

Idea density, amounts of information, types of information, and context all can impact communication as well. It is worth being conscious of these if you want to be a good communicator, which is a very worthwhile endeavor, for one of the largest issues facing creative outliers is being in rapport with others, without which adoption of insights does not occur.

The rate of speaking is a really good place to start. First, slow down your delivery, and second, get to the point faster. This combination requires prioritization based upon who you are talking to, a transcribing computer or a person, and what kind of person?