Master the Pause
It might be the most difficult communication skill, the dramatic use of silence. Consider that the most effective technique is to say nothing. That means, that sometimes, you need to shut up.
“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
The pause requires self-discipline and self-confidence. To master the pause, you must become comfortable with both silence and uncertainty.
Silence can feel discomforting for the speaker. Strangely, the pause might generate uncertainty for the speaker. I say that’s strange because the only way for the speaker to be certain about the audience is to listen for their response.
Why is mastery of silence such a powerful communication tool?
Because most people can’t tolerate the vacuum of silence.
When negotiating, the one who speaks less usually wins. The one who talks too much tends to give away valuable information and more concessions. The lesson: once you’ve stated your position, stop talking!
When delivering your presentation, your audience will listen more intently when you include more pauses in your presentation.
Pause immediately before you state something important to enhance anticipation. Pause right after you stated an important point to allow the audience to digest your message. The opening and closing pauses punch up the words between them.
Did you know that your audience can either listen or think – but not both at the same time. When you want them to think – shut up.
To demonstrate more confidence, pause more often and more dramatically.
Why? Because speakers who talk nonstop sound nervous and deceitful. It is as if they don’t want anyone else to challenge them or even think about their message.
To demonstrate real control and self-confidence pause before you start your presentation. After you have been introduced, move to center stage, plant your feet then smile while looking at the audience for at least three seconds while saying nothing.
It’s only three seconds and it might feel like eons for you. But it will have a magical effect on the audience. They will stop fidgeting, focus on you and be waiting for the first word out of your mouth. While you might feel uncomfortable during those three seconds, the audience will be marveling at your self-confidence and composure.
“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes–ah, that is where the art resides!”
Say less. Pause more. Be more powerful!
© George Torok delivers powerful presentations. He is the Speech Coach for Executives.