If you want your business to succeed, then you are going to need to learn how to design and deliver great presentations. With organizations like TED raising the bar with regards to what people expect from a great speech, you will now need to step up your game if you want to keep your audiences attention. One way you you can make a great impact is by using pauses and silence.
What Is A Pause?
All too often speakers will rush through their speech where the pace is much too fast. Whether they are nervous or trying to cram way too much information in, they are talking at a pace without ever pausing.
Pausing is when you allow the audience to digest the information you are sharing or it can provide a way to make the next portion of your speech more impactful. If you ever listen to comedians during their performance, you can see them use this regularly. They pause for a second before they deliver the punch line. This technique can also be used by speakers as well.
Too Much Silence Is Awkward
If a speaker is standing on the podium and all of a sudden stops speaking for more than 10 seconds, the silence gets awkward and everybody immediately searches for the mishap; because something must be wrong.
Maybe there are problems with:
- Loss of confidence
- Blank mind
- Flopped joke
- Unanswered question
These are all reasons the seminar hall becomes quiet all of a sudden; and very often the speaker and audience become uneasy. These situations are big tests for the trainer. Is he able to make a comeback and continue with enthusiasm?
Use Silence The Right Way
Perfect presentation skills include silence as a powerful tool. If you intentionally use silence as your ally you can get them to look at you and concentrate on what you say to emphasize your point. Your listeners need time and an opportunity to fully absorb your teaching. The mind can only do one thing at a time: either listen to your voice or think through your tips or suggestions or logic. Give them the time they need to agree with you and follow you on your journey.
“Many speakers rush through their material wanting to give as much information as possible in the limited time they have got” says Dan Smith of the website Keynote Speaker. “These are not perfect presentation skills, quite the opposite; the audience will not thank you for ignoring their need for silence in order to think and you will not achieve your goal because they can’t really understand your tips and tricks. We humans need certain steps to understand und internalize new information; time is one of the steps desperately needed.”
Let your audience think your observations through; maybe even give them a chance to comment and if possible even practice what you teach. “Think about when you read a motivational quote” says Sean Adams of Motivation Ping. “You need time to process it. But if someone kept going right after, you might not have given the audience a chance to truly contemplate it.”
How To Use Pauses
Here are some simple tips you can use when pausing during a speech:
Be quiet and observe until your listeners do what you want them to do; in my case above listen. This can take a while or more than 10 seconds, that is why they start feeling uncomfortable and listen.
Jokes depend on silence to be successful. Use silence just before your punch line, a few seconds, this increases the suspense; the audience is very quiet eagerly awaiting the culmination. And then let them laugh; do not step on their enjoyment.
After a difficult or important piece of insight you need to let them absorb, taste, and try it on for size and possibilities.
Ask a question and give them the time to answer or at least contemplate it
Remember perfect presentation skills not only include silence as an ally but actually use it to impress and stir people. Many speakers are fearful of the quiet moment in the room.
Use it to your advantage and incorporate it in your speech and practice it to fine tune the perfect moment and correct length for the most impact. The audience will love you for it and agrees that you practice perfect presentation skills.