Have you ever wondered how long your 5-minute speech should be on paper?

What about a 60-minute speech?

These are questions that are difficult to answer unless you’ve been through it already. Otherwise, the answer is most likely not what you think!

As a speech coach, that’s why I’m here to help you out.

Typically, it will take 150 words spoken to hit 1 minute of time.

Now, if you’re a fast-talking Irish-Italian-New Yorker like me, then there’s a little wiggle room here—you may be closer to 175 words!

If you translate that into number of pages, assuming we’re using 12.5 font and double-spacing, that’s going to be about 2.5 pages every 5 minutes.

But there’s one thing you want to be very careful of with this metric!

The last thing you want to do is cram as many words as possible into your speech.

Now, if you’re creating a video, and you know for a fact that you can talk smoothly and uninterrupted, give it a shot! But when you’re in front of a live audience giving a motivational speech, don’t even think about it.

On stage with a live audience, you want to make sure there’s time for conversation and engagement. Maybe you want to do an activity. Maybe you’re going to ask questions you want them to reply to. You need to factor in time for communication.

The last thing you want is to get up there and be so focused on speeding through your speech that you potentially miss out on communicating with your audience. After all, isn’t that why you’re up there?

So, technically your 5-minute speech can be around 2.5 pages, which is about 750 words.

That does not mean you want to fill a 5-minute speech with 750 words.

If you do that, chances are the audience will tune you out. This is more of a framework than anything!

Now, right now, you might be asking yourself, “Well, what can I do to make sure they don’t tune me out?”

I thought you’d never ask.

Here are some of my favorite tips on grabbing—and keeping—your audience’s attention as a motivational speaker, whether you’re speaking for 5 minutes or 5 hours.

  1. Open With a BANG

How long do you think you have on stage before people start pulling out their phones to check their email?

If you answered “a few seconds” then unfortunately, you’re right. That’s why the very first words out of your mouth have to engage them.

Are you curious to know the most powerful way to open with a bang?

Ask a question, specifically with the word “you” in it.

(See what I did there?)

If you want to learn more about opening with a bang, check out our podcast episode, How To Grab Attention From The First Words Out Of Your Mouth.

  1. Keep The Energy Moving

We live in a world today where attention spans are shorter than ever.

Whether they realize it or not, your audience is itching for that moment they can disengage and get back to their mile long to-do list.

The best way to keep the energy moving is to tell a story. Use analogies or metaphors. Be conversational! Act like you’re talking to only one person and address them as much as possible.

When you do have cold hard facts, avoid “data-dumping” at all costs. Instead, weave them into your story in a unique and creative way; one that doesn’t make your audience feel like they’re at a spelling bee.

To learn more about what stories to tell in your speeches, check out our podcast episode Is Storytelling In Your Sales and Relationship Building Toolkit?

  1. Leave Them on High

You’ve started strong and kept your audience’s attention…now, it’s critical that you leave them on a high.

The last thing you want is a message that fizzles out.

You want them motivated, inspired, and empowered to take the next step, whatever that may be. And it’s your job to tell them!

Your closing is the finale firework display: your last chance to explode, dazzle, and sparkle in the eyes of your audience.

And contrary to belief, you should never end with a Q&A session. Learn why on our podcast episode, Never Ever End Your Presentation With A Q&A…Never!

Follow the framework above and you’ll hit a home run every time you speak!