Today we’re going to look at a technique in speaking that is easy to do but hard to grasp. Its a technique that when used, makes you look like a professional. It is simply “pausing”.
Pausing in your speech serves many purposes. Unfortunately, its a very difficult thing that requires practise and proper placement in our speeches. When we’re speaking in front of an audience, we find that we’re so focused on giving the message that we don’t take a moment to ensure that our audience is actually receiving our message. So here are some points to consider when we try to pause in our speeches;
- Pausing allows our audience to digest our words. When we speak, we speak at a certain rate. But the fact is, our audience members do not listen or comprehend at the same rate. Consider this, our audience members are trying to listen, comprehend, relate to and visualize your words all at the same time. Now thats a really tall order for anyone to do. So giving our audience members time to digest our words just by pausing for a few seconds will go along way.
- Pausing gives emphasis to the point you’ve just made. Use a pause in places where you want the audience to listen carefully and understand. When you do that, What happens is that the audience has digested your words and also mentally revisited your last sentences to review them. This gives reinforcement to what you’ve just said and makes you look like a superstar.
- Pausing in place of crutch words remove distractions in your speech. You hear it all the time, whether in the news or in regular conversation. Its the “um” or “ah” or “so” or any other word that a person feels compelled to say to give continuity to what they’re saying. In reality its not necessary to provide such continuity. Infact, it can get distracting. I once had a coworker who used to say “um” on the phone so many times that I wondered whether or not this person truly was getting their point across. Next time, in a conversation, try avoiding atleast 1 crutch word such as “um” and instead say nothing. You’ll find that the person you’re speaking to won’t even notice and might even get what you’re saying sooner. After that, try avoiding another and another. In the long run, you’ll see it get easier and easier to pause.
- Pausing for the right amount of time is important. Too often the question arises, just how long should we pause? Well, my 2 favourite speakers Craig Valentine and Darren Lacroix give this tip: “Pause for 1 second longer than you’re comfortable”. Next time you practise your speech try pausing after a main point and time how long you pause for (this may require you to record yourself and then watch for a pause and time it). Find that time and add 1 more second it. Now keep in mind if you’re only pausing for a couple of seconds, that may not be long enough. You may need to 3, 4 or even 5 seconds to really hammer home a serious point. For minor points, a couple of seconds should be alright.
So there you have it, pausing can be your friend. and will leapfrog you from being a newbie speaker to an experienced professional. So give it a try, you won’t regret it!
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