When you consider the best presenters (including Winston Churchill!) one quality that often goes unappreciated – but really makes a difference – is the power of a well-placed pause. Churchill was an expert at powerful pauses. However, like many people, I’m subject to an attack of nerves when I speak. I find myself speeding up and rushing through it, sometimes even forgetting to breathe!
Many public-speaking experts recommend pausing when you’re presenting. But how often – and for how long – should you pause during your talk? I found an article on the presenting blog Remote Possibilities that suggests a great way to improve that part of your speaking style in a simple and memorable way.
They suggest you pause according to how your words would appear if written, so:
Whenever there is a Comma … Pause for … 1 Second
Whenever there is a New Sentence … Pause for … 2 Seconds
Whenever there is a New Paragraph … Pause for … 3 Seconds
The author compares punctuation in text to pausing when speaking:
“Punctuation is to readers as pausing is to your listeners.”
Pausing is a masterful speaking technique that gives your audience time to really “get” what you’re saying. Sadly though, nerves, and a lack of appreciation for an audience’s needs causes many speakers not to pause either often enough or long enough. So this 1-2-3 tip is a huge help on both counts.
Although this tip sounds simple, we’re not saying it’s easy. That one, two or three seconds may feel like hours to you, but will be much-appreciated by your audience, who will pay more attention to you and your message.
While pausing seems straightforward, it doesn’t tend to come naturally, so you’ll likely need to practice this technique for it to become second nature. One way to improve your technique all around is to video yourself practicing your talk. And in this case, it’ll let you see just how frequent and how long your pauses really are – right down to the nearest second (shown on the video’s timeline).
So. slow your pace (which lets your audience “get” what you’re saying), and try practicing this simple “1-2-3” tip for pausing for presentation power.