Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I broke down Form & Themes so you should check that out if you haven’t already. Today is slightly different because I am going to talk about two aspects of drama theory that I feel are really important and very useful when it comes to public speaking. So if you have an interview you need to prep for or you have a presentation to give at school or at work, if you’re starting college in September and you’re nervous about speaking to new people, or even if you just want to become a more confident speaker in general then keep reading because today I am breaking down Rate & Pace, and you just might find it helpful.
What does rate mean? What does pace mean?
Rate refers to the overall speed that a piece is spoken at. Pace refers to the variety of speed within that rate.
The rate a piece is spoken at depends on a few factors. 1 – Subject Matter. 2 – The speaker’s personal ability. 3 – The size of the venue. 4 – The type of audience.
For example, if a piece is sad and solemn then the overall rate should be slow, while an exciting or frantic piece would be much quicker. A bigger room will need a slower rate. When a speaker is nervous, they tend to speed up naturally because they wish to get through it. This is where mistakes are made. Slow down, and take a breath and if you think you are speaking slowly, I promise you that you’re not. Slow down again. This is something I’ve been guilty of in the past, not realising my own speed. Who are you speaking to? Is it co-workers? Fellow students? Friends? An older audience? Little kids? Think about all of these things when deciding the rate at which you are going to speak.
Pace must be varied because otherwise the speech will be monotonous, dull, and unpleasant to listen to.
Why are rate & pace important?
When it comes to public speaking, having an understanding of rate & pace is really helpful because being aware of how fast you are speaking, and the variety of speed in your speech will enable you to be more engaging, more confident, and more interesting to listen to. Most importantly, being aware of rate & pace will make you easier to understand. There is no point in flying through a speech, interview or presentation if when it’s over the listener doesn’t really know what you said because you spoke too fast, or your voice was so dull that they struggled to remain engaged. Knowing what you are going to say is only half the battle, how you say something is extremely important and I’ve often found that when it comes to good speakers, it’s not always that the topic they are discussing is really interesting, but rather they are really interesting to listen to. If you are planning a speech, prepping for an interview or presentation then the best advice I can give is to get a room and ask a friend to listen to you give your speech aloud. Pretend it’s the real thing and go for it. Ask them for feedback. Were they bored at any moment? Confused? Do they think you are speaking too fast or too slow? Take notes about what they say, make notes on your speech and practice again. Practice makes perfect and when it comes to public speaking, the only way to get better at it is to keep speaking in public, even if it’s just to one or two friends at first.
This knowledge does not only apply to public speaking, being aware of rate & pace will help you become a better conversationalist in general because the more you become aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it, then you will naturally become more engaging.
This has been my really simple breakdown of rate & pace. Let me know in the comments if public speaking is something that people would like more advice about because I can, and probably will do a Theory Thursday post about preparing a speech and giving tips for when someone is deciding what they want to say. I am also planning on talking about overcoming nerves and stage fright in future blog posts. So stay tuned, there is so much more to come.