The art of the “pause” – knowing when to use a short one or long one – offers many benefits to speakers, presenters, and trainers alike. Mark Twain has a great phrase, “No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause” (from Mark Twain’s Speeches ~1923).
Keep in mind that while everybody reads at a different speed, everyone listens at the same speed. The challenge…everyone comprehends in a different way. A pause helps smooth out the learning speed bumps. It lets your audience catch up and absorb what you just said.
BENEFITS OF AN EFFECTIVE PAUSE
- Are an elegant way to emphasize points
- Give your audience important moments to process what you say
- Enable your audience to catch up, especially if you are a fast talker
- Make you appear more confident, as you do not need to fill every second with words
- Can add tension and suspense
- Are very effective with international audiences. They allow your audience and translator to catch up to you (similar to #3)
- Keep your audiences engaged
People frequently ask us, “Won’t my audiences notice I am pausing on purpose? It doesn’t seem natural.”
Our answer, “Used appropriately, no one will know you are deliberately pausing. What they will think is that you are an effective speaker.”
If you are new to pausing, start using short pauses in your next conversation. Test out your effectiveness until you can master the pause. Then move on to public speaking and training.
MORE FROM MARK TWAIN
Here’s an insight into Twain and how much he valued the pause:
That impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words howsoever felicitous could accomplish it…. For one audience, the pause will be short; for another a little longer; for another a shade longer still; the performer must vary the length of the pause to suit the shades of difference between audiences. … I used to play with the pause as other children play with a toy.
– Mark Twain, Autobiographical Dictation, 11 October 1907.
Photography Sources: © Copyright 2018, The Chief Storyteller®. All rights reserved.