I am applying to a scholarship, where I need to answer some questions in a one minute long video. I would like to push as much information as I can, but I wouldn't like to make it over-crowded... so what is an optimal speech / time ratio? (how many characters, or sentences, etc for one minute?) Are there some statistics like that? What is it like at ads from tech companies?

  • I don't know off the top of my head, but you probably want to be comparing to instructional media or news casters rather than advertisements. The purpose of advertisements is very different from the purpose of a recorded interview, which is basically what this is.
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 13:07
  • Make sure you copyedit what you're going to say, get everything down to nice and succinct portions - get your message clear, and your communication clearer.
    – nchpmn
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


You will generally get the following guidance if you take courses on presentation skills (this list from write-out-loud.com)

  • Slow speech is usually regarded as less than 110 wpm, or words per minute.
  • Conversational speech generally falls between 120 wpm at the slow end, to 150 - 200 wpm in the fast range.
  • People who read books for radio or podcasts are often asked to speak at 150-160 wpm.
  • Auctioneers or commentators who practice speed speech are usually in the 250 to 400 wpm range.

So you'll probably want to aim for that 150 wpm range to be able to get a reasonable amount across, but not sound like an auctioneer

  • I agree with @DrMayhem. I had a job at a school for court reporters (stenographers) where I read court transcripts out loud at various speeds. The advanced students could transcribe up to 175 or 200 wpm. It wasn't that hard to speak at that pace. Some days, in some classes, we got up to 225 or 250 wpm. I could speak at that pace (but it was tough!) and the students could understand me. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 22:47
  • One of the challenges I have (and many others, especially the Scots) is speaking too fast - a combination of naturally fast pace and sometimes nervousness - so I take conscious pauses for breath, to look at at least 3 faces in the audience, and to think where my hands/feet are. I'm by no means a natural speaker, but am getting there through practice and following simple guidelines like these.
    – Dr Mayhem
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 14:39

Do you have the option to display your answer in text on the screen as you're saying it? You could probably speak faster: The viewers would be reading along anyway, so if you were unintelligible for a few words, the viewers would still get the meaning.

I agree with @DrMayhem about speech speeds, but I think you can get away with 175-200 wpm and not sound too rushed. You would have to be focused, though, and it might require a few "takes" before all 175-200 words were clear. If you do try to squeeze in more than 150 words, make sure you vary your pitch (like a musical note) so you aren't just monotone. Energy drinks aren't out of the question. ;-)

After writing all this, I just realize how much of this is a learned skill/art. I've been in theater and on YouTube for years and years, using my voice like an instrument. If you don't use your voice that way normally, and you don't have a natural knack for it, you might want to aim for 150 words instead of 200.

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