“Let’s eat Grandma!”
“Let’s eat, Grandma!”
Did you read those two sentences differently? Did you invite to eat Grandma or did you invite Grandma to eat with you? The presence of a comma made you pause for a while, didn’t it? Truly, there is power in punctuations. However, in this case, there are no punctuations in speeches — only pauses.
Why do I pause a lot when I speak? Why take long pauses in speech? How silence in speeches affect my delivery? You may be having these questions in your head right now. Don’t worry! As you read further you’ll understand why having a pause technique in place in your speech matters.
A good speaker takes their time on stage because they know that timing is crucial. If done the right way, it can bring a speech to a whole new level of awesome. If done wrong, it can be confusing and may not be as effective as you want it to be. Here are 5 ways mastering the art of pausing can be used to your advantage.
1. Opening on a lighter note
Have you ever watched some award shows and the receipt of the award was to give a speech? What do you notice about them? They don’t immediately dive into their speech. Rather, they pause for a while as if they are savouring the moment and the award they have just been given. It allows them to get an air of confidence and briefly compose their first words. As a speaker, you should do the same. Take a few seconds to maybe let the people look at you and maybe even look at them as well. Make eye contact, take a deep (but not that noticeable) deep breath, and begin your speech.
2. Transitioning to the next idea
Speeches, or even just outlines of the speech, are usually written. Even if it is not, in your mind, you have divided your speech into different parts. In these division, it’s essential that you learn to pause so that you know what part of your speech you are in, and to also let the audience know that you’re on another idea. It also mentally prepares the both of you for the next idea. Not only does it work for ideas, but it can give you the chance to move to a new location.
3. Controlling your pace
Think of your speech as a faucet and the flow of water is your pace. If the water just drips, you’re going really slow. If it’s fast flowing, then you’re going way too fast. You would want your faucet to flow just the right amount so that the audience won’t get impatient and wouldn’t be bombarded too much by your pace. Being a drip can cause them to lose focus and check out while being a powerful torrent can cause your audience to not get anything at all.
4. Dictating emotion
Have you ever been to a comedy bar and the comedian on stage is telling a joke and before letting go of the punchline, pauses for a while. This is a perfect example of pauses dictating the emotion of a speech. The pause lets you anticipate and know that a punchline is coming up. If they sped up their joke too fast, the audience might not even know that the joke has already been said. It also goes the same way in much more serious events such as a wedding where the priest pauses every now and then to show how important and solemn the event is, or even at an eulogy where the pauses dictate the emotion of the speaker and how important the person is.
5. Being more dynamic
There are some speakers who ask a question but they themselves are the one who answer it but in a more powerful and more engaging way. An example of this is “Do we need democracy?” [pauses for a while] “Of course we do!” The question is left hanging for a brief moment and if an answer is given with just the right amount of pause, the answer given is deemed as the most appropriate reply. The pause heightens the attention.
True enough, speeches are a powerful thing and most often than not, a pause adds more power to it. With those reasons stated above, I bet you’d want to try them out on your own!