Effective speakers know the power of pauses! Pauses make them appear much more confident and compelling than speakers who fill every space. Too many people string endless thoughts and sentences together without pausing. If you are ever guilty of this, then it makes it harder for others to connect with you and your messages. When you create a habit of pausing, more people will take notice of what you say. In short, pausing will increase the odds of your messages being heard! This is why it is worth your time to make pausing a new habit this year!
Pausing seems to come easy to some people, but it is a learned skill that anyone can master. Once you learn it, then you will be able to do it naturally and with ease without even thinking. Just as when you learn any new skill, it requires attention and practice. The following are the top reasons why you should practice pausing when you speak!
1. Pause For Your Audience
The most important reason to pause more when you speak is because people process information at different rates. Some people are fast thinkers; they process information quickly. Others process at medium or slow rates; this is often connected to their preference for visual, auditory, or kinesthetic cues to make decisions and relay information. But even those who process quickly may be hearing your information for the first time. They also need time to take in the data you are sharing. By allowing for “white space” (pauses) around your thoughts your audience has the time they need to process your ideas. It gives them much-needed time to reflect on your message and absorb your true intention.
Also, people prefer conversational speakers and research shows that conversational speech consists of short, medium, and long pauses. Too many corporate speakers fail to pause and therefore sound more like robots than humans. This makes it hard for audiences to stay tuned in.
2. Pausing Eliminates Filler Words
One of the most common requests we get when we coach executives and high potentials is to help them eliminate the habit of using filler words. Like any habit, it can be corrected. Filler words are often a result of feeling you must fill every space with thoughts. In some cases it can also be a byproduct of fear and anxiety. Therefore it is a good practice to highlight your notes where you plan to pause. Many people find having a physical prompt is extremely useful. Building in pauses does wonders for eliminating filler words and you sound more confident!
3. Pause & Look Smarter!
Studies show the average person has 12 to 18 thousand thoughts per day. Then, you attempt to “co-mmunicate” those thoughts as you choose which ones will best convey your key messages. Some people struggle with brevity and pausing, but less really is more! A study by Lingua reveals people who use pauses are perceived to be more articulate and better educated. Elon Musk is notorious for using extremely long pauses during interviews and speeches. In this interview (at the twenty-minute mark) Musk paused almost 17 seconds to consider his answer! Most people would feel uncomfortable using lengthy pauses like Musk, but it works.
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as the rightly timed pause.” – MARK TWAIN
Five Tips for Choosing WHEN to Pause
Each year people deliver more than 30 million presentations and speeches as part of their work. On top of that, think about how many virtual and in-person meetings take place daily. Not to mention one-on-one conversations! You can create a habit of pausing and reap the rewards in building your credibility! Below are five crucial times you should practice pausing.
5 Crucial Times You Should Pause
- After key messages.
- After you pose an important question.
- When you receive a compelling question.
- Following a story.
- When you get an objection or insult.
Achieve Your Speaking Goals!
If this is the year you want to invest in your team’s speaking, communication, and leadership skills then CONTACT US! Our coaches deliver skills and strategies based on decades of expertise! You may inquire about private coaching or team training.
We offer actionable and relevant consulting, training, and coaching for leaders and teams. So explore your business goals and options now to achieve you very best this year! You can also call on Benchmark for keynote speeches and presentations.