You might think your power derives from what you say, NOT from what you don’t say.
In reality, your seconds of silence create your highest drama when giving your presentation.
Pausing is hard to do.
Once you hit the stage you start talking! You cannot stand a mere second of “nothing” while facing your crowd. In fact, each second feels like an eternity.
Why is pausing powerful? It’s an effective way to grab your audience’s attention; and it’s a type of oral punctuation that can cause your listeners to better process your information.
How long is a pause? Some experts claim a pause lasts 3 to 7 seconds. Good luck with that! I’m ecstatic if my clients can shut up for 2 seconds (we coach them to internally count “1001…1002” and then say something).
When do you pause? At lease three different times in your speech.
First: At the VERY beginning. Walk to the lectern with poise, good posture, fun energy and a smile. Get to the lectern. Don’t say anything yet!!! Pause for 2 – 3 seconds while looking at your audience using your effective eye contact. Then begin with your great introduction.
Second: During your speech when you want heightened drama. Here’s the catch – on the other end of your pause you must say something dramatic! Your pause has caused some positive tension and then we want a reward for our effective listening. Ex: “Your six teams all faced challenges after the merger. [PAUSE] You are going on an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii!”
Third: At the end of your speech. Do not leave the lectern while saying your “thank you’s”! When you conclude – smile, pause, do your effective eye contact. Give your audience a chance to process and maybe even clap, given the nature of your presentation.
To appear powerful, master the art of the pause.
© 2020 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved © 123RF Stock Photo
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Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker