The Power of Silence Helps You Communicate Your Message More Effectively
“You have to become comfortable with pause,” says Featured Speaker E.G. Sebastian.
Pauses are powerful. They bring many benefits to your presentation. In this post, I’ll share five of them.
1. Pauses improve understanding
When you read, you know when there is a pause because you can see the punctuation. However, when you are listening, you don’t have that information. As a speaker, you use pauses — long, short and in-between — to communicate commas, semicolons, periods, paragraph breaks and more.
2. Pauses communicate emotion
Research shows that pauses help convey emotion. When you are sad, angry, happy or any other emotion, you use pauses differently, changing the duration and placement of them. As a speaker, you can tap into your natural, authentic rhythm to communicate emotion, pausing as you would in a conversation with a friend.
3. Pauses improve pace, which increases information absorption
“Your audience needs time to actually hear and process what it is you’re saying,” says Featured Speaker Riva Greenberg. When you pause between various thoughts and ideas, “you’re really helping your audience take in what you’re saying and relate it to themselves before you’re pressing on to your next point.”
“People don’t hear you when you’re talking,” says Featured Speaker Meg Waters. “They hear you when you’re silent.” It is in those silences that they process the information they’ve heard. “In order to understand what somebody is saying, your brain needs time to hear the words and assimilate them in their mind before they can go on to the next thought.”
In addition, research shows that we pause more often when speaking than reading. So, if you have to read during your presentation, be sure to extend your pauses to sound more natural.
4. Pauses are better than filler words
We all use them — um, ah, you know. These are words we use to fill up the void when we are collecting our thoughts. However, too many of them in a presentation can make you seem less authentic, less prepared, less knowledgeable and less credible than you really are. A pause can effectively give you time to collect your thoughts without these negative results.
5. Pausing gives you time to think
When you speak, two things are happening: You are thinking about what to say next, while you are saying something now. Sometimes there is a lag from one to the other. Taking a pause to breathe or take a sip of water gives your internal thinking time to catch up to your external talking.