In my world of powerful presentations, I encourage my speech-coaching clients and audiences to never underestimate the power of a pause.
In this article, we will explore the significance of the pause and how you can leverage it to create additional impact in your presentations.
The Essence of a Pause:
A pause is not a moment of nothing; it is a deliberate tool that helps you establish an intellectual and emotional connection with your audience. By pausing at strategic moments, you allow your listeners time to process what you have said, enabling them to stay engaged and follow your message effectively. This is particularly crucial if you tend to speak rapidly, as pauses provide the necessary breathing room for your audience.
Use Punctuation as a Guide:
Imagine your talk written out, and consider where you would place various punctuation marks. Each mark has a distinct purpose, and you can use them as a guide for incorporating pauses in your delivery. Let’s explore some examples:
Commas: Similar to a brief pause in written text, a comma signifies a natural pause in your speech. It allows the audience to absorb the information before moving on to the next point. Utilize “verbal” commas strategically to create a rhythmic flow in your presentation.
Periods: When you encounter a period, it represents the end of a complete thought or idea. In your speech, a “verbal” period should be accompanied by a slightly longer pause, emphasizing the significance of what you’ve just communicated.
Exclamation Points: These punctuation marks denote enthusiasm, excitement, or emphasis. When you find a place an exclamation point would be in speech script, let it guide you to add energy to your pause. This will enhance the impact of the statement and capture the attention of your audience.
Ellipsis (…): An ellipsis in written text indicates an intentional omission or continuation. Similarly, when you come across an ellipsis in your speech, it suggests a moment of anticipation or suspense. Pause briefly to build anticipation before delivering the next part of your message.
Underlined Words: If you were to underline certain words in your speech script for emphasis, those words can guide you to add a slight pause before or after them. Pausing before an emphasized word creates anticipation, while pausing after allows your audience to absorb its impact.
New Paragraphs: Just as a new paragraph signifies a shift in topic or a change in perspective in written text, you can use it as a cue to incorporate a slightly longer pause in your presentation. This pause indicates a transition and prepares your audience for the upcoming information. This is also I good time to move on the transition of ideas.
Remember, powerful presenters recognize the significance of the pause. When you add strategic pauses based on punctuation marks and understand their impact, you will build an intellectual and emotional connection with your audience. Just as the space between musical notes creates the beauty of composition, the spaces between your words, guided by intentional pauses, can elevate your presentations to new heights.
I encourage you to embrace the pause and unleash the power it holds in captivating your audience.
To read more about the power of the pause and what I learned from legendary speech coach the late Ron Arden check out this article.
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