Quick question - how many words for a 1 hour talk?


Hi all,

I need to give a one hour presentation about my work and I was wondering if anyone knew roughly how many written words that is equivalent to? i'm guessing I'll need it written out because improvising from bullet points for that length of time is pretty intense!



In a 20 minute talk I usually get through about 2, 500... so multiplying by 3 that would mean about 7,500. That seems like a lot though!

Avatar for Eska

I usually write the equivalent of a 4000 word essay for an hour long lecture. But then I don't follow the notes, and my talking is guided more by the slides - which I try to keep to a minimum, about 12 - 13 for an hour (lecture in visual studies, so they're not notes): I just need to write the essay to know what my structure and points are, and then I just start talking around the images. I also show clips, I find it breaks things up for me and the students - an hour of talking is intensive on both sides, and there is always faffing time to allow for - I'd say about 10 minutes altogether.

Whether to read directly from writing would, for me, depend on how accurate and careful I needed to be about what I was saying, so if this were a talk for students I would use my lecture method, but for a talk for people assessing my work or for a conferrence I would read directly from the page in order to be as accurate with my words as possible.

Good luck! I hope this helps a bit.


======= Date Modified 29 Jan 2010 20:45:49 =======
Hi, I speak very (too) fast and this is the biggest criticism I always get.. I always write my talk and have slides aswell, bu dont quite 'read out' but talk the talk...that way I do 3000 in 15 -17 mins and have done a 9000 words paper as a talk in 55 mins...

but depends on what areas it is in, what kind of audience it is, and how you want to 'fillett' your time..

Edit to add - 9000 word paper in 1 hr was mainly reading out conversationally and was just too fast, so i'd probbaly say KeepCalm's 7500 is a nicer pace :)


Yeh, I've given presentations from a thesis chapter, and so about 8000 words seems to do it for me, too. Can I jsut say - PLEASE don't read out your work for an hour - the audience will be bored witless. There is nothing worse than being subjected to listening to someone read a lecture. Very few people read aloud well, and I've been subject to so many dull, monotonal lectures - just sucks the life right out of a subject. And I always get resentful and think that the lecturer should just give me the lecture notes, I'll read it quicker in my own time. It's much more interesting to watch and listen to a speaker who walks around, modulates their voice, engages with the audience, rather than someone standing there reading. Sorry for the rant, but this is a pet hate of mine!

I'd use a couple dozen slides for an hour talk - I average about 2 minutes a slide. And try and break it up with graphs, photos, diagrams, so it's not all bullet points. Good luck!


Thanks for all your replies. It's a seminar that I have been invited to give at another univeristy so it's kind of informal, but I also don't want to look like a total clown (and I get very nervous when giving talks) so I felt like having a written paper would be a comfort blanket. I think now I'm going to go for a halfway house with bullet points for the bits I know really well, and a few key sentences written out for the trickier parts.

Thanks again!