Pause because silence speaks volumes
This technique is often difficult to master and yet it is tremendously powerful.
The pause – the act of being silent – of remaining quiet for a few seconds.
Some speakers believe that their job is to keep speaking because that saves time. No! That wastes time and annoys people because we didn’t understand or appreciate the message.
When you speak, your responsibility is to deliver the message with the least words necessary.
Why is it important to pause while speaking?
The pause allows people to think about what you said.
You appear more confident when you pause because you convey the unspoken message that you are comfortable with the silence.
The pause demonstrates that you are not simply rushing through this presentation. If you appear to be rushing, we get anxious. Why are you rushing? What are you hiding? Are you pressuring us?
How long should the pause be? Usually 1 to 5 seconds, depending on the situation. It could be longer.
There are two times to use the pause:
- Right before you say something important
- Right after you say something important
Pause right before an important point to create suspense and heighten the value of the important point because they need to catch their breath and wait a few seconds for the message.
Consider the Oscar moment – May I have the envelope please. The audience goes quiet and holds their breath while they wait for the announcement.
Consider these phrases followed by the pause:
- I’m glad that you ask that question because the answer is…(pause)
- After years of research, we discovered the costliest mistake that people make and that is…(pause)
- When I asked the Dali Lama about the true secret to happiness, he paused…and then said…
Pause right after you said something important to allow the silence to reinforce the importance of the message and allow them to think and digest the point.
That pause allows them to become comfortable with your point. They see you as a person who respects their intelligence by allowing them thinking space.
And now we pause..
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