The Positive Power of the Pause in Presenting

As a business professional, you know that giving effective presentations is a critical skill. Whether you’re presenting to colleagues, clients, or investors, the way you deliver your message will have a huge impact on your audience’s perception of you and your ideas.

One often-overlooked aspect of presentation delivery is the power of the pause. Generally, what we notice in our coaching is that people do not pause enough when presenting. While it might seem counter-intuitive, strategically placed pauses help you connect with your audience, clarify your message, and enhance your impact.

First, let’s define what we mean by “pause”. For presentations and talks, a pause can be as short as a half-second or as long as several seconds. It’s not about stopping your speech entirely, but rather taking a brief moment to pause before continuing.

And how often should we pause?  As a rule of thumb, you’ll look great with a pause every 5-12 words. In reality, most people just don’t pause enough. So when you are practising your presentation, just keep adding more pauses and longer pauses and see what impact you make. You’ll probably find that your presentation gets better the more pauses you add. That’s the power of the pause.

So why is the pause so important?

A few key reasons:

  1. Pauses help you connect with your audience. When you pause, you give your audience a chance to take in what you’ve just said. This helps them feel engaged in the conversation and more likely to remember what you say.
  2. Pauses clarify your message. If you’re presenting complex information, a pause will help your audience process what you’re saying. This makes your message more effective and easier to understand.
  3. Pauses add emphasis to key points. By pausing before or after an important point, you draw attention to it and help your audience remember it better.
  4. Pauses help you manage your nerves. If you’re feeling anxious about presenting, pausing gives you a chance to take a deep breath and compose yourself before continuing.

Watch Julian Treasure in this TED talk and see how he uses multiple, frequent pauses to keep your attention. This is a good example of the power of the pause. Note also how he pauses at the very start, before he says anything.

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So how can you effectively use pauses into your presentation?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice your presentation, the more comfortable you’ll be with the pacing and timing of your pauses.
  2. Use pauses to emphasize key points. As mentioned above, pausing before or after a particularly important point will draw attention to it.
  3. Use pauses to manage your nerves. If you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to pause and take a deep breath before continuing. This will help you stay calm and focused.
  4. Use pauses to clarify complex information. If you’re presenting something that might be difficult for your audience to understand, take a moment to pause so they can process what you’re saying.
  5. Use pauses to connect with your audience. By pausing and making eye contact with individual members of your audience, you can create a personal connection with them.

It’s worth noting that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you’re pausing too frequently or for too long, it can disrupt the flow of your presentation and distract your audience. As with any skill, the key is to find the right balance.

The power of the pause is an often-overlooked aspect of presentation delivery. More and better pauses will improve the impression you make and it will help you land your message. By using strategic pauses in your presentations, you can connect with your audience, clarify your message, and enhance the overall impact of your presentation. So next time you’re preparing to give a presentation, don’t forget the power of the pause.

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About Benjamin Ball Associates

Benjamin Ball Associates Team

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.

Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.

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