Basics of Public Speaking
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Lesson 12 - The Power of Pause

In Lesson 11, we learned many tips for using your voice well. This lesson builds on that. When we really want to make an impact on our audience, we can use our voice in a very special way. We can just STOP using our voice! Imagine that now... During a speech you pause in the middle of a sentence. The audience stops and waits for you to continue and... What do they do? As they wait, the will... think about what you just said. Yes, they will stop and think. In a certain sense, you control their thoughts by pausing. You can decide when you want the audience to think and when you want them to move forward.

Here are some good times to pause during a presentation:

    When you are opening a speech, even before you say the first word, just wait for a few seconds. Instead of speaking, just look at audience. They will naturally start to think - "What will he say?", "Why is he waiting?", or "This must be important!" They will then be ready for your opening. OR you could say just one word, then wait. For example, you could start with "Today...", then pause until everyone is listening.
    Pausing just for a moment, after asking a question or bringing up a problem, encourages the audience to think about the seriousness of the situation.
    Again, just before you answer a question or provide a solution, you can pause. You can first set up the audience - prepare them by explaining some background information - then let them know your idea is coming with a short pause.
    Other good times to pause are just after introducing a key fact, when stating a statistic or an idea, at the end of a story or joke, or just before the final, main point of your speech. The pause allows the new information to "sink into" the audience's brains.

As with using your voice, you can practice this by exaggerating. Try stretching a pause out - count to five slowly and see how the audience reacts. Then you will know the "power of pause".

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