Are you grabbing the attention of your listener with the use of pause in your speech?
Many presenters speak as if they are reading carelessly without any attention to making their message or content stand out to the listener. Conveying content orally requires mastery of speaking phrases or key words with a pause and rhythm to match with your thinking and feeling. This allows the audience to pay attention; plus, it creates presence in your performance.
#1. Pause with Deliberation
If you pause randomly without focus to the purpose or meaning of your ideas, you are out of sync with your natural breathing and speaking rhythm. Instead, align your phrases and thoughts with your own rhythm to pause so the audience not only gets your meaning; but also, touches them deeply with your vocal pitch that follows your pause. Both are partners in expression to keep your audience with you.
For example, say aloud: “Truth alone makes life rich and great.” [Emerson]
Where do you personally pause when you say this? What tone do you have for the rest of the sentence after your pause? Next, experiment and repeat the sentence by inserting a pause in a different spot – after Truth, or after alone, or after makes, or after life, or after rich. What changed in your thoughts, meaning, and tone for the rest of the words? If you want the meaning to truly connect with your audience insert a pause to deliberately signal what your thoughts are about it. Isn’t this how we all naturally express our passionate ideas?
#2. Pause with Variety of Frequency
How often should you pause? Too excessive or too few will not focus your audience to see the image or to feel the emotion. Your listeners will believe that you are manipulating them, just like a fake actor or a brassy salesman who sounds totally unreal to you. Frequency is in proportion to the urgency of your images or ideas pausing less often to match a faster pace of the content; and more often to create a moment of reflection or reaction.
It’s like leading up to the climax of the story – is there a moment of contemplation or suspense before the climax, and then again after? For example, in story of “Humpty Dumpty” how often could you insert a pause to be effective? Try it and see what happens. Apply this technique in your own speech content. Rehearse your speech out loud to discover where your key words and passion stand out more; then insert your dramatic pause.
#3. Pause Long or Short for Dramatic Effect
Pause longer on the most important point in your content, or if there is a key image you want to really touch your audience with. While you pause longer, it allows for a definite idea or image to sink in to the listener and gives contrast with the rest of the words. Strong feelings like tears, amazement, laughter, fear, or deep contemplation are often the reactions from your listeners, merely by the length of your pause before.
When you’ve mastered the use of pause, pitch, and truthful expression, you will know it’s the right match when your audience becomes speechless and the applause is resounding.
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P.S. - There are more exercises in “Breathe…Just Steps to Breathtaking Speeches”
P.P.S. - Are you ready to have personal coaching for your own self advancement?
Or, listen up- exciting news: Are you a seasoned professional speaker, coach, or trainer and wish to become a quality speech coach for your own clients. Contact Brenda C. Smith today to become an Associate Breathe System™ Coach. She is accepting applicants for her upcoming “Vocal and Presentation Mastery Coaching” program.
Brenda C. Smith