Pause is the most important skill of a speaker.When you pause your audience thinks about your message and reflects. Pause builds audience confidence in you. If you don’t pause your audience doesn’t have time to digest what you told and hence will not remember a word from what you said. You need to master an art of making pauses if you want to be an effective speaker. Here are few tips on when and how to make pauses.
Pause before your first word
Pause for few seconds after you are introduced before you say your first word. When most people are introduced they shake a hand of the introducer and start to speak right away. These speakers feel awkward with silence. When you start speaking on stage right away after the introduction, it is the same as you meet your friend and start talking to him without even saying “Hi.”
When you go on stage don’t say anything for 3-7 seconds. Look at the audience members and acknowledge their presence. Only then start talking. This pause in public speaking is the same as saying “Hi” in your everyday conversations. Pause also conveys your confidence and draws attention of the audience. People will stop doing what they did before and begin listening to you, because when they see a speaker that doesn’t speak it’s something unusual. People pay attention to everything unusual.
Pause before and after you make an important point.
Pause before and after you make an important point and stand still. During this pause people think about your words and your message sinks in. Don’t move after a powerful statement or you will dilute its power.
Pause when one character reacts to words or actions of another character.
Remember when characters hear words from another character they first emotionally react, the emotion builds up, they reply and then the emotion continues. In order for emotion to build up you need time. Make a pause. Only then answer.
Pause before you respond to an audience member
Pause before you answer a question from an audience member. Pause will give you couple of seconds to think about the answer and will show your thoughtfulness. Even if you have your answer ready, pause for couple of seconds before a response.
Pause after you finish delivering lines at a fast rate
For making your speech dynamic you should use contrast. Vocal variety is not an exception. Speak loudly, softly, quickly and slow. When you finish delivering your lines at fast pace and switch to slow pace make a pause to let people digest what you said.
Make a pause instead of saying a filler word
If you listen to a beginner speaker you will probably notice many filler words such as hmm, ah, you know, so etc. Neither of these words conveys information, but all of them irritate your audience. “Good morning, ah, my name is Andrii, hmm, you know, I am going to talk with you, hmm about public speaking.” It sounds irritating. Speakers say filler words when they don’t know what to say but feel uncomfortable with silence.
Every time you don’t know what to say and need time to think make a pause. You will sound confident and thoughtful and in most cases people will not even notice that something is wrong with your speech. It takes practice. Do pauses consciously every time you stumble and very soon you will notice that filler words never pop up in your speech.