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

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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

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What color to wear for your on-camera appearance?

First, you need to know what not to wear: Generally avoid red, white, black — basically anything very dark or very bright. This is because colors are captured differently through the camera lens than through your eyes. Reds often turn pink on camera, white can be too ‘hot’ and blacks can make you disappear if you’re sitting in front of a dark-colored background. Instead, go for mid-tones that will pop against the backdrop.

Here are tips for looking good on-camera:

  • Know what the shot is going to be. You’re going to be seen within a rectangular screen, whether that’s on TV or within an online video player, and you’ll typically be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot — whether it will be a close up, medium or wide shot — and what the background color will be will help you determine what to wear, so be sure to ask!
  • Wear your darkest color on the bottom, with a lighter color on top, and make sure your top is a darker color than your face. Viewers’ eyes will be drawn to the lightest area, and generally you’d want this to be your face. For the same reason, avoid unusual accents like white buttons on a black shirt, anything shiny or metallic, or showing a lot of leg since that is what your audience will be looking at, instead of at your face and listening to what you have to say!
  • Make sure the color you pick flatters your skin tone. People with darker skin tones will tend to look good in more vibrant tones, those with lighter skin tones should stick to mid-range colors, including pastels and earth tones.

When it comes to being on camera the goal is not to create a look with a lot of strong contrasts. Forget the heavy patterns or stripes, which can create a zebra or moiré effect and flutter on camera. Focus instead on standing out from the background. If you’re not sure what colors are flattering on you, find a stylist to help!

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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First, you need to know what not to wear: Generally avoid red, white, black — basically anything very dark or very bright. This is because colors are captured differently through the camera lens than through your eyes. Reds often turn pink on camera, white can be too ‘hot’ and blacks can make you disappear if you’re sitting in front of a dark-colored background. Instead, go for mid-tones that will pop against the backdrop.

Here are tips for looking good on-camera:

  • Know what the shot is going to be. You’re going to be seen within a rectangular screen, whether that’s on TV or within an online video player, and you’ll typically be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot — whether it will be a close up, medium or wide shot — and what the background color will be will help you determine what to wear, so be sure to ask!
  • Wear your darkest color on the bottom, with a lighter color on top, and make sure your top is a darker color than your face. Viewers’ eyes will be drawn to the lightest area, and generally you’d want this to be your face. For the same reason, avoid unusual accents like white buttons on a black shirt, anything shiny or metallic, or showing a lot of leg since that is what your audience will be looking at, instead of at your face and listening to what you have to say!
  • Make sure the color you pick flatters your skin tone. People with darker skin tones will tend to look good in more vibrant tones, those with lighter skin tones should stick to mid-range colors, including pastels and earth tones.

When it comes to being on camera the goal is not to create a look with a lot of strong contrasts. Forget the heavy patterns or stripes, which can create a zebra or moiré effect and flutter on camera. Focus instead on standing out from the background. If you’re not sure what colors are flattering on you, find a stylist to help!

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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On-camera Wardrobe Snafus & How To Overcome Them

You might think that what you wear on-camera should pretty much reflect what you wear off camera. After all, you’re showing up for the shoot as you, right? Well, yes, and no. For people who identify with a particular look, like cowboys, hippies and rock stars, their on-camera wardrobe choice should authentically reflect their persona. For example, it would be strange if JayZ didn’t stay true to his urban style, whether he was presenting at the Grammy awards or to Wall Street bankers.

For the rest of us, here are some general rules for looking good on-camera:

  • Clothes that are too loose or too tight can be distracting, as can lively patterns and loud tones. Stay ‘classic’, with simple patterning and mid-range tones.
  • Find a good tailor. Every garment bought off the rack can be fitted to avoid unflattering extra fabric or cling. Even an inexpensive H&M shirt or jacket can be tailored to complement your body. Check out your local dry cleaner for alteration services if you don’t already have a tailor.
  • Ask yourself whether you’re attached to a look that isn’t working for you! Case in point, Simon Cowell identifies with his plain white or black V-neck T shirts, but the look really doesn’t do him any favors. A collared shirt would look so much better on Simon.

You can highlight your best assets, such as Michelle Obama arms or an Audrey Hepburn neck, when you’re dressing for your on-camera appearance. But, more than anything else, presenters and on-camera guests should avoid drawing attention away from their subject matter by taking too many risks with their clothes. Ultimately what you’re saying should be more important than how you look.

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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You might think that what you wear on-camera should pretty much reflect what you wear off camera. After all, you’re showing up for the shoot as you, right? Well, yes, and no. For people who identify with a particular look, like cowboys, hippies and rock stars, their on-camera wardrobe choice should authentically reflect their persona. For example, it would be strange if JayZ didn’t stay true to his urban style, whether he was presenting at the Grammy awards or to Wall Street bankers.

For the rest of us, here are some general rules for looking good on-camera:

  • Clothes that are too loose or too tight can be distracting, as can lively patterns and loud tones. Stay ‘classic’, with simple patterning and mid-range tones.
  • Find a good tailor. Every garment bought off the rack can be fitted to avoid unflattering extra fabric or cling. Even an inexpensive H&M shirt or jacket can be tailored to complement your body. Check out your local dry cleaner for alteration services if you don’t already have a tailor.
  • Ask yourself whether you’re attached to a look that isn’t working for you! Case in point, Simon Cowell identifies with his plain white or black V-neck T shirts, but the look really doesn’t do him any favors. A collared shirt would look so much better on Simon.

You can highlight your best assets, such as Michelle Obama arms or an Audrey Hepburn neck, when you’re dressing for your on-camera appearance. But, more than anything else, presenters and on-camera guests should avoid drawing attention away from their subject matter by taking too many risks with their clothes. Ultimately what you’re saying should be more important than how you look.

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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