How fast should your talent speak in a business video?

18.09.2014 21:45

How fast should your talent speak in a business video?


By Craig Vollgraff, Video Producer, Inspire Video Marketing

160 words – 160 words a minute is the “magic” number of words for what communications experts call “Highly Intelligible Speech”.

Highly Intelligible Speech is the rate at which the majority of people can clearly understand what the speaker is communicating. In video production, think of it as the maximum number of words you can speak per minute of video. I’ve been approaching this from a scripting and messaging standpoint for a long time, because I believe you need the message of any video production to be extremely clear and easy to understand. You’ve got one shot at your prospect, and they need to be able to clearly understand what you do, why you do it, and what makes you unique. Make the most of it!

To give you some idea of how hard it is to say everything you want to say in 160 words, this post is already 151 words!

Here’s a link to a cool article on the 160 wpm concept and how it relates to public speaking, podcasting and video production:

Most of my client’s initial script documents are between 2 and 3 double or single spaced pages, enough text for 4-6 minutes of dialog. With the client’s budget and vision aligned in the 1 minute universe, getting their message down to the best 160 words for their needs at that moment is a big challenge. Editing is the secret sauce of content, the ability and vision necessary to create a punchy, impactful message. Without editing and carefully choosing your words, your message fades into the background, with viewers never really understanding what it is that you’re trying to communicate.

So how do you get your message to fit?

  • Start by being very clear about your message and objectives. What is it that you want to communicate? What can you leave out without penalty? Cut anything and everything that doesn’t support your message. Be sure to use the word count feature of your word processor to keep you on track.
  • Next, establish your baseline. Take your script and time yourself reading it aloud in a natural voice. Remember that your goal is to clearly communicate your message. Slow down and enunciate.  Timing yourself will show you how much editing you’ll need to do to get to 160 wpm.
  • Take a hard look at your script and find those places where you can eliminate words and phrases to decrease the word count and increase the impact of your message.  I find it helpful to write, edit and re-edit over a period of days. Approaching things with a “fresh” set of eyes helps me to see where I can make the message more powerful.


Here’s a real world example from Michael Burns, a San Diego realtor. This is Michael’s original script:

“Hi, this is Michael Burns with Realty ONE Group, and my number 1 goal in real estate is to make selling your home for top dollar as simple as possible.” 

“If you are like most homeowners I know, you are busy with family and life’s daily demands.  Whether it be your job, kids and family, or just life in general, who has the time, not to mention wants the added stress of selling their home.”

“In this video, you will learn why hiring me to sell your home will not only take the stress out of selling your home, but you will also learn a bit about my powerful and unique home selling strategy, designed for markets like the one we are in right now, that will allow you and your family to get top dollar for your home and prevent you from potentially leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table.  You will also hear from some my happy customers as they share their stories of success with you.”

That’s 170 words, or 63.75 seconds.

Here’s the edited version:

“Hi, I'm Michael Burns with Realty ONE Group, and my goal as your realtor is to make selling your home as simple and stress free as possible.  With all of life's daily demands, the last thing you want to deal with is the stress of selling your home.”

“Today you’ll learn why hiring me to sell your home takes the stress out of the transaction. You’ll hear about my SELLERS VIP program, my powerful and unique home selling system that will get you top dollar for your home. You’ll also hear from some happy customers as they share their stories of success.”

That’s 102 words, or 38.25 seconds.

Notice how the revised version flows, how it’s become more personal (my goal as your realtor vs. my number 1 goal in real estate), and how it uses fewer and more powerful words to increase its impact. This should be your goal in every video production, to impact your viewer and move them to the action you want them to take!

160 words per minute is your target to maximize you communication effectiveness!

Thanks to Michael Burns  for allowing us to use his script examples. Check out Michael’s video here.




Craig Vollgraff
Video Producer, Inspire Video Marketing
Co-Founder, 3Hr Learning,LLC
Direct Line: 619-866-7993