Power Presentations Tip 04: Zip it. Zip it good.
What's more powerful than your words?
The well placed pause is the simplest communication tool. The pause conveys your confidence more than your words. The pause engages your listeners because it allows them to think. The pause adds emphasis to your words.
Yet too many presenters don't make effective use of the pause. Why? Some believe that they need to say what they have to say before someone interrupts. If that is your style then be aware that the audience isn't listening. They are listening to their own words inside their head. Just because you didn't allow them to speak out loud doesn't stop them from talking in their head.
When should you pause?
Pause after you have taken your speaking position and before you start speaking. This ensures you have everyone's attention for your first word.
Pause after you said something profound to allow them to digest that nugget.
Pause after saying something funny to give them time to get the humor and enjoy a laugh.
Pause after you pose a rhetorical question to let them think about it.
Pause before you answer a tough question from the audience to emphasize the credibility and importance of your answer.
Pause after you've said what you wanted to say - so you don't dilute your message.
How long should a pause be?
As long as needed. Most of the time three to five seconds are enough. You might need to count the seconds in your head as "one steamboat" or "one Mississippi".
When you master the pause you will be a more powerful presenter. In the words of Dr Evil from the Austin Power Movie - "Zip it. Zip it Good".
"Love receiving "the TIPS". Modifying my existing presentations as I read each TIPS message. Each one becomes even better with each email. Looking forward to TIPS #4."
Dr. Frank Stechey, Chair
The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario
PS: Tell me how this tip helps you.
Register here to receive your own copy of Power Presentations Tips free every two weeks.
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.