Coca-Cola’s 1929 slogan was “The Pause that Refreshes,” and we can incorporate the presentation pause to powerful effect in our business presentations.
Pauses can, indeed, be refreshing, and a judicious pause can refresh your presentation.
In fact, the prudent presentation pause for reflection, for the audience to digest your message, for dramatic effect to emphasize what comes next . . . all add depth and richness to your show and communicate to audience members that they have gathered to hear something special.
So, make friends with silence so that you feel comfortable in its presence.
Power of the Presentation Pause
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 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.
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 presentation 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. In point of fact, 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, and surely not least, 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 . . .
Pause. Look slightly down. Scratch your chin. Furrow your brow. Take four steps to the right or left.
You just bought 7-8 precious seconds to collect your thoughts.
More on Presentation Pause Power in The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.