How to Avoid
Going Over Time
By J.A. Gamache
3rd place winner in the 2001
World Championship of Public Speaking
Have you ever been disqualified from a contest because you went over time? Here are three sure-fire ways to stay within any time limit.
- 1- Find your speaking flow
- Since everyone has their own speaking flow, i.e. the number of words spoken per minute, it is important that you find your own speaking flow.
Do you know how many words you speak per minute? Here is how to find out what is your own speaking flow. Read a text out loud and stop after a minute to count the words (Microsoft Word has a tool for counting words). For example my speaking flow in French, my native language, is about 150 words a minute, while in English it slows down to 105 words a minute. This means that to give a seven minute speech in English my text cannot be longer than 735 words!
Another advantage of knowing your speaking flow, is that you can make corrections in your flow as you speak because you know where you are supposed to be in your text at the green, amber and red light during a Toastmasters contest. This way you will know if you have to speed up to avoid going over time.
Now that you have learned how to evaluate your speaking flow, find your speaking style and hang on to it!