The Power Pause . . . for Effect

PauseCoca-Cola’s 1929 slogan was “The Pause that Refreshes.”

Pauses can, indeed, be refreshing, and a judicious pause can refresh your business presentation.

Here’s how pausing can ignite, can inspire, can rivet an audience’s attention on the salient points that you want them to remember.

The prudent pause for reflection, for the audience to digest your message, for dramatic effect to emphasize what comes next . . . all add depth and richness to communicate to your audience gathered to hear something special.

Make friends with silence so that you feel comfortable in its presence.

Public Speaking Pause Power

The correct pauses imbue your talk with incredible power.  With proper timing and coupled with other techniques, the pause evokes strong emotions in your audience.

A pause can project and communicate as much or more than mere words.

Your Pause can Refresh your Audience . . . give it a chance to anticipate what comes next
Your Pause can Refresh your Audience . . . give it a chance to anticipate what comes next

The public speaking pause is part of your nonverbal repertoire.  It’s a superbly useful tool.

The comfortable pause communicates your competence and confidence.

The pause telegraphs deep, serious thought.

The Power Pause is underutilized today, but has served as arrow-in-quiver of the finest presenters over centuries.

Presentation Master Grenville Kleiser 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 comes next.

So save this technique for the moments just prior to each of your main points.

How do you pause?

When?

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 attention.

Hesitate.

Don’t waste this powerful technique on a minor point of your talk.  Time your pauses to emphasize the single most important point – your MIP – and its handful of supporting points.

Voice coach Patsy Rodenburg says:  “A pause is effective and 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.”

Pause, and You Accent What is to Come
Pause . . . to Accent What Comes Next

Finally, the 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 . . .

Stop.  Look slightly down.  Scratch your chin thoughtfully.  Furrow your brow.  Take four steps to the right or left, angling a bit toward the audience.  Look up . . . and continue your talk.

Voila!  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.