Recently, I listened to a speaker give a stirring and heartfelt speech but it was exhausting to watch. Later, I realised that it was because he didn’t pause once. He ran through his presentation like a high speed train, he even looked breathless at the end of it!
Do you breeze through your delivery? Or do you rush to get to the end? Do you know the power of the pause?
-The most precious thing in a speech are the pauses – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Being cool, calm and connected is how we would all like to appear when making our mark during an important meeting, or when signing a new contract or asking for more money. But how often do we blitz through it instead of flow? How easy it is to forget that the person or people watching and listening, need a moment to digest your offer, understand your meaning or simply appreciate your point of view.
Nowadays, many things run at a pepped up and pumped up pace and, let’s be honest, a lot of it we don’t hear.
The art of listening is truly a wondrous skill for all of us to develop but the speaker has to pace the speech for us to comprehend the content. So much information and no time to understand it, no time to review and consider the words. And, we all know what happens when we disconnect…we stop listening, we switch on our phones and search online for the nearest bar.
The power of the pause is essential for an audience, to reflect a poignant point. Perhaps, to consider or reason an opinion. Maybe concede a previous thought pattern or be intrigued by a viewpoint.
– Sometimes you need to press pause to let everything sink in – Sebastian Vettel
When you ask your audience or your business associate a question, do you pause and wait for an answer? Do you stop and look for a nod or other sign of acknowledgement? We are talking about moments, a breath or two. A golden moment of silence where the listener can take in the context, the sense, the nuance of your words.
How do you pause when your nerves are running high? How do you create an oral comma when your boss is breathing down your neck, when your audience are looking at their phones? It takes a spoonful of courage to breath in and stop. It takes confidence in yourself and your words to look around the room and not speak for a beat or two.
The speaker also welcomes that glorious pause, to retain confidence, to recollect their thoughts and to enjoy the audience. The speaker needs to see that the audience ‘gets it’, and by taking that minuscule fraction of time, she or he can check out reactions, responses, subtle gestures. In writing we have punctuation, in speaking we have that magic pause.
Next time you speak, remember the power of the pause, it offers you credibility, lets you breath and relax and allows your audience to absorb your message…don’t you think?