I learn something new every day

I tend to resist watching long clips of talking heads on the internet (speeches, press conferences, debates, lectures, etc.) because it is so time-consuming and I find it so much quicker to read transcripts. Unfortunately. transcripts are not always available and their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. But just yesterday, I learned that at least with clips on YouTube, you can adjust the speed to suit you.

I find that playing the clips at 1.5 times the normal speed works well for me. This results in a 33% reduction in the length of time taken to watch it, which works out to a 40 minute reduction if you want to watch a two-hour lecture on some topic, not an insignificant saving. At this speed, the speaker still moves and sounds fairly normal and not as if they are appearing in a Benny Hill sketch.

I am passing this on for the one or two of you out there who may have been as clueless about this as I was.


  1. felicis says

    Thanks! I am not generally a fan of listening to people speak -- certainly not for so long -- if there is a written alternative. I read much faster than normal speech and thus have never really liked books on tape (or CD, or streaming audio now). Nor do I particularly like podcasts -- for much the same reason.

    Now I might give some of these things a try…

  2. cherbear says

    I discovered this with podcasts too. you can make them 2X as fast. I listen to a science podcast at 1.2 X the speed and it does make it go quicker. I wouldn’t do it if they didn’t have so much filler in the podcast. :\

  3. Carl Fink says

    I have a huge backlog of podcasts that I’ve been trying to get through, and was grateful to find an MP3 player that allowed fine adjustment of playback speed without altering the pitch. I also found that 1.5x was the perfect speed in most cases, resulting in a significant time savings while still being perfectly understandable in most cases.

    It’s funny, I’ve gotten so used to listenting to spoken-word audio this way, that I almost can’t even hear the difference any more. Sometimes I’ll double-check my player to make sure I have the 1.5x speed enabled. But when I listen while my wife is around, the speed-up drives her bonkers.

    YouTube has had speed controls for a while, but they only recently became available on the mobile app, which was very exciting for me. I watch/listen to a lot of spoken-word content via YouTube on my cell phone, and it had always been very annoying that I couldn’t speed it up like I was used to with my podcasts.

  4. Mano Singham says


    Yeah, now I too find it hard to tell if the audio is speeded up. It is remarkable how quickly the brain adjusts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *