presentation skills training – 4 reasons to (pause) more often
- July 7, 2017
- Posted by: Mark
- Category: presentation skills training
Imagine that you have just begun your presentation. People are listening. All is going well. But you notice some people are gradually beginning to drift. Someone is now checking her phone and another is looking out of the window. What’s going on?
You increase the tempo of your voice and start speaking even more loudly to get the attention of the audience at the back. It’s working, but you are now slightly uncomfortable speaking at this pace. At the front, some of the audience are straining to understand every word as your sentences begin to run together. What to do?
Just stop. That’s right. Just stop speaking for 3 seconds and watch what happens. Count to 3 and watch as people look up and refocus. The sudden absence of speech catches people off-guard. They are now present again and you are back in control. You can catch your breath. To you, 3 seconds of not speaking seems like an eternity…but to your audience, your pauses are exactly what they need to follow along better.
Here are 4 reasons to pause more often when presenting.
1. invisible punctuation
When you read a book or a blog post such as this, you notice the commas I have written. You can tell that this is a new sentence. I used a capital letter to begin the sentence and then inserted a full-stop to tell you that this sentence has now ended. When you give a presentation, your audience does not have the benefit of ‘seeing’ paragraphs, sentences and full-stops. They need your pauses to help them follow you. When you pause, your audience will realise that you are making a new point, emphasising something in particular or changing subject completely. It really works!
2. the key point
Another reason to pause more often is that it gives your audience time to ‘absorb’ each key point you are making. Many speakers run ideas and sentences together, with the result that the audience has no idea which information is key and which information is….well….just background or supporting information. If a comedian ran every joke together you wouldn’t have time to laugh. Professional comedians know that you want to laugh…(pause) …..and their pausing gives you the space to do just that.
3. umm’s and ehhhh’s
Have you noticed how many inexperienced people unconsciously use filler words such as ‘emmm’ or ‘ehhhhh’ when they are speaking (or rather when they are not speaking)? What this suggests to an audience is that the speaker is unprepared. She or he is nervous or is having a hard time thinking of the next thing to say. There is absolutely no value to your audience in saying ‘ehhhhhh..’ It conveys nothing. When you feel an ‘ehhhh’ coming, just pause. The ‘ehhh’s’ and ‘ummm’s’ will fade away. My presentation skills training helps speakers eliminate these fillers quickly. The difference is remarkable.
4. real power
Powerful people are not hurried. They are relaxed. And so are you. When you pause for one second, two seconds or even three seconds, you wield real power. You are conveying confidence and authority. You are smiling at the audience, taking control and keeping them focused….on ….each…..key…..point…. (pause). Pausing gives you time to make eye contact and ‘check-in’ with people as you gauge their reaction. There is no train to catch… so slow down and pause. In my workshops, people are amazed at just how powerful they feel when they take time to consciously pause. (1-2-3)
Remember, it’s actually hard work sitting in the audience. Your audience is processing your words, powerpoint slides, the environment, new ideas and concepts all at the same time. Your pauses will help your audience to ‘change gears’ and file away information before they take on board the next idea.
When making a pitch in a competitive situation, you need to be sure which points your audience should take away so you can stand out from the competition. Pausing can make the difference between a memorable presentation and a ‘what was that all about?’ presentation.
(pause) ….it’s your choice…. (pause)
presentation skills training that works for your team
As an experienced presentation skills trainer, I enjoy enormously the process of helping teams and individuals make powerful, memorable presentations. I coach clients in groups and one-to-one across the UK and Ireland at Managerial and Senior Levels.