Conference Papers: Converting Pages to Minutes

It seems like every time I prepare a conference paper, I wonder how long it should be, in terms of number of pages, so as to correspond to the allotted time. You would think that by now I would have the ratio perfected to a science, but in actual fact, I still find that even when I of a comparable standard length, sometimes I am done before the 20 minutes are up, while other times I still seem to be cutting it down to the wire or skipping things so as to avoid going over.

Do you have a formula that you use for determining the appropriate number of pages for a particular length of talk? There is surprisingly little advice on this subject on the internet, and so if you have the secret formula and are willing to share it, you could become famous! 🙂

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Davidcclark

    One typed, double spaced page =  2 min.

  • Davidcclark

    One typed, double spaced page =  2 min.

  • 100 words = 1 minute

    That said, my average conference paper lasts 18 minutes with around 2200 words.

    There is another variable: PowerPoint.  I use it rarely, and try to avoid it altogether.  I assume one PP slide = 50 words off the main paper, which allows you to slow your pace down for your audience to have space to look at it without feeling pushed around.

  • 100 words = 1 minute

    That said, my average conference paper lasts 18 minutes with around 2200 words. I speak a little on the fast side.

    There is another variable: PowerPoint.  I use it rarely, and try to avoid it altogether.  I assume one PP slide = 50 words off the main paper, which allows you to slow your pace down for your audience to look at it without feeling pushed around.

  • Tim

    People speak at different rates, so there is probably a large range when it comes to words or pages per minute. My own rate is about the same as the one DavidClark gave. I always time myself reading a paper after writing the rough draft and then adjust the length accordingly when revising. Then I time myself reading it again when it’s in the final version.

  • Tim

    People speak at different rates, so there is probably a large range when it comes to words or pages per minute. My own rate is about the same as the one DavidClark gave. I always time myself reading a paper after writing the rough draft and then adjust the length accordingly when revising. Then I time myself reading it again when it’s in the final version.

  • I find 100 words/minute to be a good rule of thumb. This is a nice, comfortable pace (and a nice, round number, to boot)!

  • I find 100 words/minute to be a good rule of thumb. This is a nice, comfortable pace (and a nice, round number, to boot)!

  • Based on that calculation, my current draft should take almost an hour to read – but I was already aware that it needed to be trimmed.

    I suppose that even in a word count for a scholarly paper, the occurrences of words like “the” and “Redaktionsgeschichtliche” balance one another out, as far as timing is concerned. 🙂

    Well, I guess I had better get back to trimming more than half of my draft! 🙂

    – I usually aimed for somewhere in the vicinity of ten pages, double-spaced and it was usually in the right ballpark. But even when I read it in an attempt to time it, I never get an accurate sense

  • Based on that calculation, my current draft should take almost an hour to read – but I was already aware that it needed to be trimmed.

    I suppose that even in a word count for a scholarly paper, the occurrences of words like “the” and “Redaktionsgeschichtliche” balance one another out, as far as timing is concerned. 🙂

    Well, I guess I had better get back to trimming more than half of my draft! 🙂

    In the past I usually aimed for somewhere in the vicinity of ten pages, double-spaced and it was usually in the right ballpark. But even when I read it in an attempt to time it, I never get an accurate sense of the actual time it will last at the conference, either because the real-life pace is different, or because I stop to scribble notes and make edits.