Presentation Skills: The Pause That Refreshes

One Presentation Skills technique you need to master to capture and captivate your audience is The Power of the Pause.

Watch the video below and then read the article for more ways to use the Power of the Pause.


Before explaining how to use The Power of the Pause in your presentations, let me share with you one major reason I recommend that all speakers,trainers, educators, and salespeople learn to use it more often and more purposefully.We have two kinds of people in the world.

We have “Outsiders”and “Insiders.”

“Outsiders” process information outside their brains. They have to “talk” it through with themselves or with others.

They have to put it on paper or on charts. They have to hear and feel an idea with their senses.

“Insiders” process information inside their brains. They need to connect each piece of new information with something they already know or have experienced.  And that takes more time.

Teachers ask questions and reward those people who speak first. This works to the detriment of “Insiders.” 

They tend not to blurt out answers simply for the sake of answering first.

They need time to ensure that what they say matches their picture of truth.

So, pausing helps “Insiders” hear, process, understand and appreciate a speaker’s comments.

With that information as a backdrop, let’s review when you can use the “power of the pause.”

1. Before answering questions from the audience

By pausing, you shift the focus of the presentation to the person asking the question.

Look at that person, pause, and use a non-verbal message to recognize the quality and importance of the question.  Then, use the pause as a real or perceived chance to “think” about the way you would answer the question.

2. “Planned Spontaneity.”

Chances are fairly high that most of the questions the audiences ask you are questions you’ve been asked a thousand times. You know your stuff.

But, pause to have them think it’s the first time you’ve been asked that question.

They feel important because they have asked a good question and they feel that you thinking through an insightful answer to their query.

After pausing for a few moments, say, “Think about this.”

Then pause.

That request is an oral cue that prepares them for something you are going to say or something they are going to have to focus on.  It is also an attention-getter for those who may have drifted to another place during the presentation.

3. After telling a humorous story or making a humorous remark.

Pausing allows time for the punch line to take affect so that the audience isn’t laughing over the next point.

4. When an audience member makes a good point.

Again, as when an audience member asks a good question, shift the focus to the person making the comment to allow sufficient time for the other audience members to hear, understand and appreciate the comment and to recognize the person offering the contribution.

5. Planned Movement

Planned movement, not nervous or distracting movement, is an effective way to stress the importance of the points you make.

Another term for this is “stage Management.”

Before you move during a presentation, pause, then move.

When you stop, pause again before speaking.

You can move “stage right,” or “stage left.”

You can step backward or front and center to make your main point.

The important detail here is to pause before you move and again when you reach your “destination.”

Use pauses at these moments to ensure you are not speaking to the floor, the wall, the ceiling, or the curtains.

Pause until you are in position to address the audience straight on.

Speakers know exactly what they are saying while they are moving.

But, many times the audience misses important ideas simply because they did not hear what the speaker says. 

Waiting until you are straight on with the audience ensures your voice projects to them, not the empty space to your right or your left.

6. To avoid “uhms” and “ahs” or “Ya know” or “I mean…”

You can avoid this annoying and sometimes distracting habit by pausing when you feel one of these “crutches” coming on.

You generally know or can feel when one of these utterances are going to come out of your mouth.  At that moment, just stop talking.

Silence is a great attention-getter.  Take advantage of it.

If you pause rather than moan “uhm,” you look and sound like you are thinking through and selecting your words carefully.

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