When delivering a speech, a pause at the appropriate time can be a powerful way of enhancing your message.
A speech is not only the words you say, but also how you say them. You want your audience to leave remembering what you’ve said. Your content or message is only one component of your speech. The delivery is equally important. An excellent speech on paper has minimal effect with a rushed delivery. Likewise, a mediocre speech can be enhanced by a strong delivery. Give the best you can, with a well prepared speech and a powerful delivery.
There are many aspects of speech delivery that add punch to your speech, making it more memorable. These include the use of your voice, eye contact with the audience, your body language and how you use the stage or floor space available to you. This article will deal with one small, but effective, way of holding your audience’s attention, the use of the pause.
A pause can emphasize your message
You’ve just made a powerful point, one you hope your audience will remember. If you rush into your next sentence, the effect of that point is lost as your listeners struggle to keep up. After making the point, pause for a couple of seconds. This gives the information time to sink in. It also enables you to catch your breath before you move on to the next sentence.
Pausing for effect punctuates your message, similar to punctuation marks in written statements. When you pause you’re telling the audience that what you’ve just said is important. The pause doesn’t have to be long. Even two seconds can be a powerful way of emphasizing your message.
A pause can slow down your speaking rate
Many speakers try to say too much in too short a time. Consequently they speak quickly, trying to fit everything into the allotted time. If you find yourself speaking too quickly, pause at the end of a sentence and take a breath. If you feel in need of a breath, your listeners or audience probably do too.
A pause gives you time to think
Sometimes the inevitable happens – you forget what you were going to say next. Rather than panic, pause and collect your thoughts. When you’re not sure what you were going to say next, pausing enables you to quickly retrace your previous words in your mind and figure out what the next logical step will be. Don’t worry that your audience may think you’ve forgotten what you were going to say. If your speech has been going well so far, they’ll be happy to wait while you collect your thoughts. The chances are they may not even notice. Once you’ve started speaking again, the original statement often returns to your mind.
A pause is more powerful than um and ah
Often we listen to a speaker with an interesting message, only to be distracted by constant ums and ahs. Sometimes it’s a sign of nervousness, sometimes it’s a sign of laziness. Often the speaker isn’t aware they’re doing it. Fillers such as um and ah can become a bad habit. Make an effort to listen for them in other speakers, especially in television interviews. You’ll soon hear how silly they sound.
The simple way of solving this problem is to simply pause. Once you’re aware you have this habit, try to be conscious of it happening. Every time you feel an um or an ah, or any other filler coming on, stop speaking and pause. Silence is a better filler than those two silly little words.
Think of pausing for a more powerful presentation
Presenting a speech takes a lot of preparation. You want your audience to remember what you’ve said. One powerful way of enabling this to happen is to make use of the pause throughout your speech. You’ll find your audience are thankful for it and will leave the venue impressed.
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