If you’re writing a 3-minute speech, it’s useful to get a grip on how many words you’ll end up with for your presentation. Speech writing is similar to essay writing but when you’re restricted with a time limit, take care to prepare in advance, practice your speech in front of a mirror with your iPhone or other phone and record yourself to check the timing.
In this piece, we’ll explore how many words are needed for a 3-minute speech, so you don’t go over your time limit and you present the best possible speech, in a timely manner. There are a few things to think about during the preparation stage.
Let’s dive in!
The General Rule
Of course, everyone speaks with their own speed so it’s hard to place an exact timing on your speech because we're all different! When delivering a speech though, it’s important not to rush. Instead, take your time so that your audience listens to everything you say and takes it in.
Outstanding Speeches Always Use Emphasis
If you rush your speech, you might lose your audience. You must also think about what phrases to emphasize as well as ensuring regular pauses so your audience digests what you’ve said. It's a good idea to pick up useful speaking skills by listening to others deliver speeches.
Look out for their speech patterns and calculate their average speaking rates using a voice recorder. See what their minute speech rate is too, to help get your average speech rates spot on.
Read Your Speech Aloud to Find Your Average Speech Rates
A good way to assess how fast or slow you speak is to read something out loud using a one-minute timer. This should give you a good indication of how many words you use per minute. As well as using a voice recorder, once you’ve finished your one-minute test, count up the word number using a reputable online word counter tool such as Originality AI.
This type of word counter instantly assesses the number of words written and as it works in real time, you get an accurate result, including number of words, number of characters and more. In fact, Originality AI is a useful word counting tool because it also tells you if your speech contains plagiarism as well as detecting AI-generated content.
A good rule of thumb is approximately 450 words per minute of speech spoken out loud, but if you find yourself using more or less words, as long as you don’t rush your delivery, don’t worry! If you find yourself using significantly more words or significantly less words, keep practicing and aim for the 450 words mentioned above.
Typical speaking rates are approximately 450-words per minute. If you're a slow speaker, you may use more words-per-minute. Do practice your presentation time, especially if you're limited to 3-minutes.
What About Word Count?
A 3-minute speech should contain approximately 1,350 words – again, give or take a few extra or a few less.
When writing your speech, stick to that amount and make sure you cover all the essential topic points. Type up your speech on an A4 page using the following guidelines:
Choosing Your Font Family
Writing a speech is different to essay writing in terms of font family. It’s your speech so you may choose whatever font you want but there are a few things to consider. For example, some fonts are easier to read than others. While you might prefer a script font such as Baguet, you’re best advised to keep it simple and use Arial or Times New Roman.
This is because both of these fonts are much easier to read and in speech situations, you need good readability! Another acceptable font is Calibri but it’s slightly smaller than Arial or Times New Roman and size matters. Let’s move onto font sizes.
Choosing Your Font Size
If you have excellent eyesight then you might prefer a smaller font but whether you’re blessed with good eyesight or not, when reading a speech, choose a larger font size. Really, 12-font size is the minimum. Anything smaller and you might lose your place!
You could choose a slightly larger font size too, such as 14 but you’ll end up with more pages and if you don’t want to rifle through pages, stick with 12-point font size in Arial.
Use Double Spacing
Writing an essay usually involves single-spacing, unless it’s a college assignment which might require double-spacing so a college tutor can comment in the extra space.
With speech writing it’s different and double spacing is easier for the eye to track reading and speaking aloud. It’s therefore better to choose double-spaced pages when delivering a speech.
Use Standard 1-Inch Margins
To keep page count down, use standard 1-inch margins. As soon as you increase your margin size you end up with more pages. If you reduce your margin size, you end up with less pages. However, if you’d rather deal with fewer pages, you might want to use narrower margins. As long as you use double-spacing and a larger font (12 to 14 size) you should still find reading your speech easy!
What About Headers and Lists?
Some speech writers include headers to break up the topic into smaller, bite-size chunks. You may also want to use bulleted or numbered lists to emphasize certain points. Obviously, this changes the end page count – but shouldn’t change the overall word count (which, for a 3-minute speech should be around the 1,350-word mark).
Other Useful Preparation Tips for Your 3-Minute Speech
Here's a basic guide for 3-minute speech preparation:
Check out useful videos to help deliver 3-minute speeches, there are lots online, here's a useful YouTube video to help you with your own presentation. Or to help with balancing content, you could read this Forbes article
Do break up your text. If your paragraphs are too long, then you might lose your place. Try and stick to 4 sentences per paragraph.
Don't use overly long sentences. Keep them brief and to the point or you might find you struggle to deliver long sentences. If your sentences are too long, you may struggle with audience attention. Equally, use coherent sentences.
For an effective presentation, make eye contact and use body language to engage your audience and for audience interaction but always be aware of time constraints, especially if your speech has a limited time.
For an effective 3-minute speech, check your grammar and punctuation, especially for business presentations. You need a firm grasp on the English language to deliver an excellent speech!
If you tend to rush your speeches, try practicing at a slower pace but you should always use a comfortable pace for good communication skills.
As a good public speaker, always use consistent speech, keep the language the same throughout and address your audience. These are common speaking mistakes but crucial speech etiquette. If you're a novice speaker, keep practicing your 3-minute presentation.
What About Longer and Shorter Speeches?
If you want to know how many words in a shorter or longer speech - here's a basic guideline based on average rate of 450-word per minute:
- A 1-minute speech contains approximately 450 words.
- A 2-minute speech contains approximately 900 words.
- A 4-minute speech contains approximately 1,800 words.
- A 5-minute speech word count contains approximately 2,250 words.
- A 7-minute speech contains approximately 3,150 words.
- An 8-minute speech contains approximately 3,600 words.
- A 9-minute speech contains approximately 4,050 words.
- A 10-minute speech contains approximately 4,500 words.
- An 11-minute speech contains approximately 4,950 words.
- A 12-minute speech contains approximately 5,400 words.
- A 13-minute speech contains approximately 5,850 words.
- A 14-minute speech contains approximately 6,300 words.
- A 15-minute speech contains approximately 6,750 words.
- A 16-minute speech contains approximately 7,200 words.
- A 17-minute speech contains approximately 7,650 words.
- An 18-minute speech contains approximately 8,100 words.
- A 19-minute speech contains approximately 8,550 words.
- A 20-minute speech contains approximately 9,000 words.
- A 21-minute speech contains approximately 9,450 words.
- A 22-minute speech contains approximately 9,900 words.
- A 23-minute speech contains approximately 10,350 words.
- A 24-minute speech contains approximately 10,800 words.
- A 25-minute speech contains approximately 11,250 words.
- A 26-minute speech contains approximately 11,700 words.
- A 27-minute speech contains approximately 12,150 words.
- A 28-minute speech contains approximately 12,600 words.
- A 29-minute speech contains approximately 13,050 words.
- A 30-minute speech contains approximately 13,500 words.
- A 45-minute speech contains approximately 20.250 words.
- A 1-hour speech contains approximately 27,000 words.
Remember, while the time frame might be set, the time it takes to deliver your speech depends on your speaking rate and the above relates to the average person delivering 450-words per minute (average speed) when public speaking.
How Many Words Do You Need For a Three-Minute Speech – Summary
Finally, a 3-minute speech should contain an average word count of 1,350 words but if you’re restricted by the three-minute time limit, delivery is everything! Practice your speech using recording equipment, such as a basic voice recorder on your mobile device. Check your speed of speech and check your word count too.
Using the Originality AI online word counter helps determine the quantity of words in your entire speech. Simply place your actual speech text into the text box and Originality AI does all the hard work on your behalf. Once you’ve made sure your word count is correct, keep practicing, don’t rush your speech, be sure to emphasize key points and use pauses throughout so your audience digests what you’re saying.