The power of the pause – 3 reasons to go quiet during your speech
This is one I still need to remind myself of all the time. As a quiet girl, just like you, sometimes, I want to get the attention off myself as quickly as possible. So, I rush through what I have to say. But audiences LOVE pauses, and this blog post explains why.
There are many reasons it’s important to pause, but here are just three.
Pauses give the audience time to absorb what you’ve been saying
Remember, as the speaker, you know the content of your speech inside and out (or at least, you should!) The audience doesn’t have that same luxury. They’re most likely hearing it for the first time and need a few moments every once in a while to slow down and take in the meaning of your words. The pause allows them to do this. Don’t rattle on without taking this into account. Give them some thinking space to visualise the pictures you’re painting with your words or to catch up with your thinking.
Pauses allow for a sense of drama in your speech
If something shocking or surprising has just happened in your narrative, then pause. This adds to the drama and tension of the moment. It makes your speech more enjoyable by giving the audience a moment of delicious anticipation. In their minds, they’re thinking, “Wow! What’s going to happen next?”
Don’t deprive the audience of this moment by rushing on without giving them time to savour the drama.
Pauses add emphasis
This kind of pause is similar to reading words written in bold type or capitals. It adds emphasis to what’s just been said.
“I told him no” followed by a pause has much greater impact than without. It implies that the speaker really means what they’ve just said…no kidding around and no turning back. Use the emphatic pause whenever you want to underline a point.
So, don’t overlook the pause. Including silences in your speech is just as important as the words you choose. Not to mention, as well as being good for the audience, they’re great for you as they give you a bit of breathing space. And don’t worry about the audience thinking “What next” or worrying that you’ve forgotten what you’re going to say. You can get away with fairly long pauses. So even if you have momentarily forgotten your next words, relax, pass it off as a pause, and no-one will know any better!
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