The Value of the Pause

Why is it that once we get started speaking or presenting, we don’t know when to stop or how to pause? Because we’re afraid we might forget what we’re saying or that the audience will think we’ve lost our place. But pausing actually helps us listen. Constant sound makes us tune out. So if you want to make someone listen to you? Stop talking!

Here are 3 good reasons to use the pause:

  • A short pause–a half second or second–jerks the rhythm and can help the speaker stay focused on content.
  • Pauses helps the listener or audience keep up with the content so we stay interested.
  • Just listen to any great music and you’ll notice that it stops and starts. It’s in the pauses that we listen most acutely. Speaking is the same. We need to pause to be effective. But when we’re nervous or even just excited, we can tend to do what I call ‘motoring,’ which is when we rattle off the content without finessing the pacing. Learning to finesse the pacing adds to your brand as a powerful presenter.

In working with a Business Presence client recently, I actually had to say “stop” and “start” to inhibit the ‘motoring.’ It forced the client to take a breath and think of the next beat, or idea. While it felt unnatural at the time, when the client listened back to herself she realized the actual pause wasn’t that long and how it would help keep her audience engaged.

So practice putting pauses in your presentations so we can pay attention and enjoy what you’re saying.

This post was created by Screen Presence voice and presentation coach Marilyn Pittman