How to Talk Fast: Exercises + Tips

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Photo Source: “Gilmore Girls” Credit: Robert Voets/Netflix

From the speedy speaking of the titular duo in “Gilmore Girls,” to the pressured speech patterns used to rush through disclaimers in medical commercials, talking fast certainly has its (high-tempo) time and place, especially for actors. If you’re interested in learning how to add velocity to your voice—while still remaining comprehensible and clear—this guide is for you.


What is speed-talking?

Kieran Culkin in Succession“Succession” Credit: Claudette Barius/HBO

Speed-talking is considered to be anything over the average conversational speed rate of 120–150 words per minute (wpm). According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, faster talking rates land at:

  • 150–160 wpm for audiobooks, radio hosts, and podcasters
  • 250 wpm for auctioneers
  • 250–400 wpm for commentators 

One of the world’s fastest talking people, Sean Shannon, can speak 655 wpm, with second-speediest speaker Steve Woodmore clocking in at 637 wpm. Their predecessor in tachylalia, “Motormouth” John Moschitta Jr., long held the Guinness record for world’s fastest talker at 586 wpm. Check out his lightning-fast yet still comprehensible abilities here:

How to talk faster

Eminem - Rap GodEminem - “Rap God” Courtesy Shady Records/Aftermath Records

1. Gain speed slowly

The key to speed-talking is proper articulation. If you can vocalize fast and furiously but nobody can catch your drift, then your turbo talking is for naught. Articulation, or the formation of clear, comprehensible sounds in speech, is affected by:

  • Speed: the rate at which you speak
  • Pitch: how high or low your voice is
  • Resonance: the intensity of your voice
  • Volume: the loudness or softness of your voice
  • Tone: the emotion behind your words

This means that if you’re changing the speed, you must be extra sure that your pitch, resonance, volume, and tone are on point. Record yourself speaking at the average conversational speaking rate of 120–150 wpm, focusing on your articulation. Once you feel that your language is clear and crisp, slowly increase your speed in segments of 10–20 wpm.

2. Practice different speeds

Once you have some control over your talking speed, try the talking equivalent of high-intensity interval training. Choose your favorite monologue or a passage from a beloved book and read it aloud once at your normal pace. Then read it as fast as you can while still articulating properly. Return to a slower pace, but keep it slightly faster than your default speaking speed. Once that feels comfortable, repeat the exercise, but begin using the slightly faster-than-normal speed and take it from there. 

3. Try tongue twisters

Tongue twisters like the following train your lips and mouth to vocalize clearly at any speed. 

  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • We surely shall see the sunshine soon.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
    A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
    If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
    He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood
    As a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
  • Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?

To make the most out of diction and articulation exercises, say the tongue twister out loud at your normal speed five times in a row. Once you can say it without any errors, increase your speed. Keep going faster—but if you make a mistake, slow back down until you’ve mastered the words.

4. Breathe properly

If you have a shorter text, take a strong breath before you begin and try to use that to propel you through the performance. “The trick is to get the breathing right,” Woodmore advised in a 2011 interview. “If you can breathe as little as possible, then you’re faster, so the less breaths I take in, the faster I become.”

For longer performances, although it might seem like breathing breaks up your brisk banter, taking regular deep breaths provides the support you need for speed-talking over longer periods of time. 

5. Use filler words wisely

The high-speed auctioneer’s chant is made possible through the use of filler words, which create the illusion of speed. According to auctioneer Brandon Neely, “The speed that sounds fast is not that fast. If you dissect an auctioneer’s chant and you take out all the filler words, you’d just have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” 

If you add filler words such as “like,” “the,” “and,” “um,” and “actually” into your own speech, it gives your brain time to think about the other words you want to say, thus allowing you to read and speak faster even if you’re not actually getting more ideas out. Of course, this practice only works in certain situations; not every role will request that you sound like filler-friendly Micah from Season 4 of “Love Is Blind.”

One way to make filler words work for you is to practice a piece speaking quickly with filler words added, then slowly removing them until the meaningless words are gone but the swiftness remains. 

6. Make it lyrical

Think of the hypnotic hastiness also heard in the auctioneer’s chant—rhythm makes it easier to get the prose out posthaste. Practice rapping along to some of your favorite rap songs and work your way up to the fastest rap songs of all time, such as Eminem’s “Rap God” or Twista’s appropriately named “Mista Tung Twista.” 

While you may not be able to chop like the champions, practicing known words to a set rhythm can help with your own double-time delivery. Once you have some practice under your belt, try adding subtle rhythm to your conversational and speed-speaking. 

7. Use a voice coach

Sometimes practicing speed-talking on your own simply won’t cut it. A dialogue coach, dialect coach, or voice coach—such as George Anthony Bell, who helped the “Gilmore Girls” cast deliver their iconic rapid-fire lines—can provide professional insight to enhance your expediency. A voice coach can also help you keep your tool safe even as you subject it to speed.

How to determine the best talking speed for a role

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Credit: Philippe Antonello/Prime Video

  • Read the materials. Often, a script or sides will include information about a character’s talking speed. If it doesn’t, it’s usually best to assume that you should fall within the normative conversational speaking range.
  • Ask those in the know. The writer and director will usually have an idea of how fast a character should be talking. The creator of “Gilmore Girls” and the similarly speedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amy Sherman-Palladino, writes teleplays that are often twice as long as the average, meaning actors must speak quickly to fit it all in.
  • Consider context: If you’re asked to list the myriad ways a new medication can be deleterious or portray an auctioneer at a bidding war, it’s likely that you should perform your piece quickly. If, however, you’re portraying a slow-witted character such as Kevin Malone from “The Office,” it’s likely that you’ll be asked to also slow your speech. Consider the context and don’t be afraid to ask how fast the powers that be want you to speak.

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