A big part of engaging an audience involves making your content accessible to them… making it easy for them to hear, process and remember your message.
And a big part of doing that is understanding, and being comfortable with, the power of the pause.
The pause is one of the most important tools a speaker has. Ironically, your ability to shut up – strategically – will determine how good a speaker you are.
Many of us enter babble-land when we speak, usually because we’re nervous. We think we must fill every second with sound. In fact we need to do just the opposite.
- We need to pause for the audience to reflect on what we said.
- We need to pause for dramatic effect.
- We need to pause for emphasis.
Emphasis directs the listener’s attention to what’s important. Emphasis subtly changes the meaning of sentences.
There are many ways to add emphasis.
- You can speak louder.
- You can whisper.
- You can pause.
A strategic pause is a great way to let the audience reflect on the point you just made, or draw their attention to the point you are about to make.
Get comfortable with a few seconds of silence. Don’t rush through your speech or presentation. When you’ve made an important point… STOP. Pause. Force the audience to think about your message.
The pause is also a great chance to slow your pace, catch your breath, calm your nerves. Just look confidently at the audience, smile, pause and then move on with your message.
Halina St James takes the worry out of presentations with her Present Like a Pro video training course. It’s available now from the Podium Coaching online store, together with her popular TalkitOut: From Fears to Cheers e-book and workbook.