Pause For A Purpose
In my market research before setting up Keynote Speaker as a business to train public speakers I went on a few courses myself to see course content of other providers/ coaches.
Pausing was an interesting and major part of one of the courses.
We were told to take ‘Jacuzzi Pauses’ make ‘every word land on the audience’.
As a result, a sense of normality was lost and the speeches felt jerky and awkward with pauses after literally every word! One of the speeches that followed was just a list of cities and countries around the world separated by large pauses while each word ‘landed on the audience’. Rather than an interesting speech with effective pauses it sounded quite like a speech given by a computer program voicing the words as they were being typed by an old lady using one finger whilst reminiscing her fondest holiday destinations.
Pausing has a purpose, and the pauses used when speaking publicly are important but should always be for a purpose.
You can compare pausing to punctuation in literature. At a comma, .. you take a pause simply to allow you to breath as you read, and a slightly longer pause is necessary at a full stop….
When speaking in front of an audience your speech should be slightly more deliberate, and your pauses should be too. Well paced speeches with adequate pauses will also allow natural breathing, helping you to sound and feel more comfortable.
When you come to an end of a paragraph there is a change of thought or idea this is a cause for a longer pause…… this is true also when giving a presentation, it is important to allow the audience to think about the point you have made before moving on.
A talk is only good if it is heard and easily understood, if you speak so fast the audience struggle to keep up, or understand, then you may as well not be there.
Pause for effect!
Here come the Exclamation and Question marks, in literature these are often not preceded or followed by long spaces or breaks in text, but when reading, to make the most of these elements pauses and a change of emphasis are necessary to relay the full impact of the writers intent. If you pose a question, whether it be a rhetorical or viewpoint question, a longer pause is important to ensure the audience is allowed to feel involved. It’s nice to be listened to, and not spoken at, and although public speaking isn’t always an exchange or conversation, asking questions and allowing time for reflection on those questions allow the audience to feel they are part of a discussion rather than being spoken at.
The Exclamation Mark, Dramatic statement!! Interesting fact!! Pausing after either of these can really add massive impact to the statement or fact just mentioned. The audience can really focus or think about the point just made, and for added effect a pause before and after can be very powerful.
‘Jacuzzi pauses’ where the pause is thrown in with no purpose will irritate your audience and make your delivery jerky and unnatural, and just as being in an actual Jacuzzi, you accomplish very little, however if you pause for a purpose it can be a very powerful tool in helping your presentation to be easy to listen to digest.
Please contact us direct for more info on how you can improve and hone your skills as a speaker, and have a professional speaking coach enhance the skills you already have or follow our blog for further tips and techniques.