It is something your audience would appreciate. It is something your body would be thankful for. And, it is something your mind could use. It is called the pause and it is something many novice speakers (and even some renowned ones) do not do. |
If your goal is to get your presentation over with as quickly as possible, then there is a very good chance that you do not allow yourself – or your audience – the luxury of the pause. This seemingly insignificant little break within a sentence, at the end of a sentence, or at the beginning of a new paragraph or topic is one of the most important things you can do while speaking, whether it is at the lectern or even just in normal conversation.
To be hit with non-stop verbiage is tiring as well frustrating for your listeners and is a guarantee that they will be unable to keep their attention on you. Without the pause, you give them reason to check their iPhones!
The pause has a number of benefits:
1. It allows yours audience to categorize their thoughts. Whether that breath is to supplement your air supply or to clear your lungs and do a complete refill, breathing while speaking is vital. Without air, you have no voice.
2. It allows you to stay in control of your thoughts.
3. It allows you to control your pacing or your speed.
4. It allows you to speak with more expression.
5. It allows you to breathe!
The difficulty for many speakers is that they wait until they come to the end of their sentence to take a breath. And that is a problem because it causes breathlessness. If you would interrupt your sentence to take a quick breath, which I refer to as supplementing your air supply, you would find that you would not experience this ‘cat and mouse’ game with your air. Without a doubt, breathlessness is one of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients.
So you think you cannot interrupt your sentence to take a breath? Try this exercise. Say the following sentence out loud, pausing where you see the asterisk.
Did it work? If you speak with expression, then it should have worked. Now say that same sentence again, this time pausing after the word interrupt. In truth, you can pause after any word in the sentence.
- I will interrupt my talk * to breathe.
While I am a huge advocate of the pause, I do not want you pausing after every 4 or 5 words. Your speech or presentation would then become sing-song. Use it wisely. And remember to use it before you run out of air, not after!
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Nancy's Voice Training Workshops.
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