I know it depends on the speed of reading, but an approximate number or range would be extremely helpful.
as originally answered on Quora.com
I think when you refer to characters, it would be better to think in terms of words.
You are writing the content for a speech, meaning that its purpose is to be spoken out loud.
North Americans speak at the rate of 125 to 150 words a minute. If you drop too far below 125, many of your audience will complain. If you boost your rate to 200 or so words per minute, you will likely lose some of your audience. If the speaking rate gets too fast, then its hard to think of a particular point, when the speaker has moved on to the next.
So in a two-minute speech, while theoretically, you would need 300 words maximum, based on the above theory, you also need to factor in pauses. Pauses can be built in for dramatic effect or to allow your audience to think about what you have said. If you are intending to be humorous, you need to factor in time for your audience to laugh and perhaps applaud. You need for them to finish before you move on.
I would suggest that you aim at 250 words for your two-minute speech. It goes by quickly!
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