The Most Under-Utilize Speech Tool
You’ve just presented a speech you’ve worked very hard to prepare. As you sit down, you receive a lukewarm response. Why? The writing was good, and the message impactful. What happened?
Chances are, you didn’t use silence to sell your main idea… you failed to allow time for your audience to take in your main points and reflect upon your message. The greatest speakers in the world speak conversationally, and are masters of pausing. Those few seconds of silence build suspense, create anticipation, and draw the audience in to you.
Are You Giving Time For Your Speech to Sink-In?
Are you allowing your audience time to think and feel? Do they have time to consider how your message can impact their lives? Or are you rushing through your speech, hoping to give them all the information you have? Many speakers are uncomfortable with pausing, because they fear that if they stop talking, they will lose the audience. The opposite is usually true. If you make a great point, but then rush onto the next point, the audience may stay stuck on the first idea, and not hear the rest of your speech.
Pausing can also help you pull your audience into your speech before you say a word. Standing in silence for a few seconds when you first stand before an audience brings the full attention of the room to you. It creates suspense (what is [s]he going to say?) and shows others that you are confident and in control.
How To Improve This Skill
How do you become a better ‘pauser?’ Take the advice of one of my speech mentors, Dan Blaney… ”pause.until.it.hurts.” In your next speech, pause one second longer than you are comfortable after each key point. When you see that you don’t lose your audience, you’ll feel more comfortable with the silence. Once you become comfortable with that silence, it’s time to stretch those pauses again. Before long, you’ll be pausing like a pro.
If you’re not using one of your greatest delivery tools, silence, your speech is just…. a forgettable speech. its allow your presentation to be an experience, one that positively changes lives.
The next time you make a great point… SHUT UP! Your audience will love you for it.
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