The best speakers pause more. In turn, they look much more confident and conversational. Speakers who fail to pause are simply not as relatable and compelling as those who build in this natural cadence element. Over the years we have coached tens of thousands of people and have discovered this is one of the key challenges for effective speakers. The following are the top three reasons why you should practice pausing when you speak.
No. 1 – Pause for Others
The Golden Rule of presenting is to create a worthwhile experience for your audience. This is true for live and virtual audiences. Therefore, you must know that people process information at different rates. Some people are fast thinkers; they process information quickly. Others process at medium or slow rates. But even those who process quickly may be hearing your information for the first time. By adding “white space” (pauses) around your messages you give your audience time to reflect on your message and absorb your true intentions.
No. 2 – Talk “With” – Instead of Talking “At” Your Audience!
Research shows that people prefer conversational speakers. Too many corporate speakers string together endless sentences, so they end up “talking at” their audiences instead of “talking with” them. Being conversational requires a mixture of short, medium, and long pauses. Without pauses, you will sound more like a robot than a human. With them, you sound like someone who is naturally interesting.
No. 3 – Look Smarter!
A study by Lingua reveals people who use pauses are perceived to be much 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 waited 17 seconds to consider his answer! Most people would feel uncomfortable using lengthy pauses like Musk, but it works.
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 adding white space.
5 Crucial Times You Should Pause
- After key messages.
- To pose an important question.
- When you receive a compelling audience question.
- After telling a story.
- When you get an objection or insult.
Take The First Step!
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