Sound of Silence ... Use Pauses for Powerful Presentations
we are presenting, and especially when we are new to speaking in front
of audiences, we often speed ahead afraid of leaving blank spaces.
Successful sales people know the power of silence. As presenters, if we
learn to use silence and pauses to our advantage, we will not only reach
our listeners more effectively, they will also understand and remember
our messages more readily.
Pause to develop relationship between you and your listeners. During a pause, the speaker is more like a listener. This is a time when both are listening and the speaker can take note of the audiences quality of listening. We might realize that as the presenter we need to change course and tell a story or possibly ask for questions. If, however, we dont take a moment to evaluate reactions and interest, we might just forge ahead without maintaining the audiences attention.
Pause with purpose. There are many times throughout a presentation a pause can add emphasis and/or give the listener a chance to ponder, or even laugh. When we have just made an important point, a startling or unusual statement, or a call for action, participants need a moment to take notes, think about what we just said, or catch up. Even though we can hear words faster than anyone can speak, we do need time to think about what was said and then form our own ideas. If, as presenters, we give participants enough time, they will be much more likely to buy into what we are presenting than if we just keep on moving fast forward with the information that is so familiar to us. I have also heard speakers who make a humorous statement and then dont let the audience members have time to get it and laugh. People need time to laugh. And laughter is important because it bonds the audience and speaker.
Transition with pauses. As a speaker with content, you have many different points to make. But if you jump too quickly from one point to another, you will leave your listeners behind or confused. When this happens, they will oftentimes tune out and you have lost them for the rest of your presentation. A well-placed pause will help you and them prepare for the next portion of your presentation. I suggest picking transitional sentences as carefully as your openings and closings, and then taking a moment of silence for the ideas in these sentences to take hold before you launch into the new point.
Pause for a show of confidence. The confident pause is an earmark of the accomplished speaker. The courage to stop the flow of words is an act of trust in the power of your presence, your nonverbal communication, and your relationship to your listeners.
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