Coca-Cola’s 1929 slogan was “The Pause that Refreshes” and likewise we can use the public speaking pause to especially powerful effect.
Pauses can, indeed, be refreshing, and a judicious pause can refresh your business presentation.
I’m taking a cue from Coke. I’m pausing here in this space, right now.
It should last for a few days. Not to refresh, but to move my abode within the confines of the great city of Philadelphia.
Moves are great.
They offer a time for purging the unwanted from one’s life, discarding what we thought was essential so long ago, only to realize now that . . . we can let it go.
Public Speaking Pause Power
So, make friends with silence so that you feel comfortable in its presence.
The correct pauses imbue your talk with incredible power. With proper timing and coupled with other techniques, the pause can evoke strong emotions in your audience.
A pause can project and communicate as much or more than mere words. The public speaking pause is part of your nonverbal repertoire and a superbly useful tool.
The comfortable pause communicates your competence and confidence. It telegraphs deep and serious thought.
Pause Power is underutilized today, but has served as arrow-in-quiver of the finest presenters over centuries. It’s a key technique to gaining personal competitive advantage. Presentation Master Grenville Kleiser knew this and he put it this way in 1912: “Paradoxical tho it may seem, there is an eloquence and a power in silence which every speaker should seek to cultivate.”
When you use the pause judiciously, you emphasize the point that comes immediately after the pause. You give the audience time to digest what you just said. And you generate anticipation for what you are about to say.
So save the pause for the moments just prior to each of your main points.
How do you pause? When do you pause?
Silence is Your Friend
A truly effective pause can be coupled with a motionless stance, particularly if you have been pacing or moving about or gesturing vigorously. Couple the pause with a sudden stop, going motionless. Look at your audience intently.
Seize their complete attention.
You can see that you should not waste your pause on a minor point of your talk. You should time your pauses to emphasize the single MIP and its handful of supporting points.
Voice coach Patsy Rodenburg says: “A pause is effective and very powerful if it is active and in the moment with your intentions and head and heart. . . . a pause filled with breath and attention to what you are saying to your audience will give you and your audience a bridge of transitional energy from one idea to another.”
Finally, the public speaking pause can rescue you when you begin to spiral out of control or lose your train of thought. Remember that silence is your friend.
Need a life-preserver? Need time to regain your composure? Try this . . .
Pause. Look slightly down. Scratch your chin thoughtfully. Furrow your brow. Take four steps to the right or left, angling a bit toward the audience.
You just bought 7-8 precious seconds to collect your thoughts.
Remember the especially powerful effects you can achieve in your business presentation with the public speaking pause. It’s a sure way to build your professional presence on the podium.
For more on superb business techniques like the public speaking pause, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.