The Importance of the Pause in Public Speaking and Executive Presentations can not be over estimated. Continuing my comparison with Hollywood..

Alan Alda says, “It is the stuff between the lines that makes it a great performance.”

(I know I hate that word stuff. However, it is an actual quote.)

When you pause the audience has time to digest what you have just said. The faster you speak, the more you have to open up your talk with silence.

Consider where you have a comma, period, paragraph, and exclamation mark, an underline or … Use this as a guide for pauses.

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Is fear of death really second only to fear of public speaking? Maybe you can relate? A presentation is the most cost-effective way to generate interest in your services, products, expertise, or organization. Consider, how many contacts, clients, buyers you might capture with a 20-minute talk? If the thought of a great outcome isn’t enough […]

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Imagine, you’ve done all the work to prepare and rehearse a major presentation and at the last minute you’re told, “I’m so sorry, but we’re short on time. Can you give us the five-minute version?” Is it possible to shorten a presentation without losing all of your impact? Yes. Don’t panic. After all, a sound […]

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Can Your Audience Understand Your Message? Not if you speak too fast. Are you speaking too quickly? It can happen unconsciously. Sometimes public speaking can trigger an adrenaline rush. You might feel charged with energy or a bit nervous. If you’re speaking too quickly, you are likely to lose your audience. You jeopardize the overall […]

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Your presentation can be powerful and persuasive when you connect with your audience both intellectually and emotionally. Eye contact is essential to creating an emotional connection with an audience of any size. This is true whether you’re speaking one-on-one or delivering a formal presentation from the stage. Eye contact gives you an edge in business. […]

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Some presenters like to move, while others stand still. At the beginning of any presentation you should stand still. Your audience members are getting used to you, how you sound, how you speak – how fast, your cadence, or your accent. As you continue your presentation, make sure your movement supports your message. Avoid unconscious […]

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Second, a pause provides dramatic interest for your audience. Of course, if you’re really nervous you have your own drama taking place, whether your audience knows it or not. But, a moment unspoken provides the silent drumroll to announce your next important point.

Third, a pause helps your audience to follow you better—they become better listeners. And, as they become more attentive, you relax and so do they. Your audience does not want to be nervous on your behalf.

I recently delivered a workshop at the American Payroll Association’s Annual Congress (May 2011) titled, “Effective Business Communications: On Paper, Online, and On Your Feet.” While at the conference, I also enjoyed a presentation called “Advanced Career-Building Speaking Skills”conducted by professional presentation skills trainer and speech coach, Patricia Fripp. Fripp’s delivery and timing served as an excellent model. She made exceptional use of the pause. As an energetic presenter it helped to slow her down, and the audience could absorb what she was saying. In effect, it’s a “listening cue,” providing you, the audience, a signal to take note of what’s about to be said.

To demonstrate the power of the pause, Fripp asked one of the audience members to come forward. Within five minutes, the volunteer had added pauses between the three major points and just before the conclusion of the persuasive argument she was preparing for senior management. The presentation did something else to improve her delivery: Fripp counseled her to make eye contact with a different member of the audience—near, middle, and far—to accompany each of the pauses. The results were dramatic.

According to Fripp, “Few sales presentations have enough pauses. Good music and good communication both contain changes of pace, pauses, and full rests. This is when listeners think about important points you’ve just made. If you rush on at full speed to crowd in as much information as possible, chances are you’ve left your prospects back at the station. Give them enough time to ask a question or even time to think over what has been said. Pauses allow pondering and understanding.”

To help prepare for your public speaking opportunity, you can write a narrative to help you rehearse. It helps to identify the places in your presentation where a pause will come naturally, just as you might accent a word or phrase for other additional emphasis.

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Delivering Your Speech Is More Than the Words You’re waiting your turn to deliver your presentation when suddenly you realize that your stomach is doing strange things and your mind is rapidly going blank. How do you conquer the jitters? People ask me this question all the time; there is no single answer. You must […]

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Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization teaching public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network. I was honored to deliver the opening keynote at the 2015 Toastmasters International Convention in Las Vegas. The last time I addressed a Toastmasters International Convention was in 2001, when I watched my colleague, Darren LaCroix, win the World […]

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