The Power of Pause

video pause button

To understand the power of pause look at any video on any website. You’ll see a little toolbar on the bottom of the video frame. It has symbols for play, stop, and pause. Your next business presentation, conversation, even meeting can benefit from that same toolbar.

Pauses helps your audience.

You hit “play” when you begin a presentation.

For a lot of professionals, the problems begin soon after that.

Most professionals and executives who I have watched over the years start a presentation or conversation and keep going until they hit the stop button. They never pause.

Pauses are brief. Their impact lasts.

A pause only has to last a second or two, about the same length as a breath. It has the same effect as a breath too: It feels natural.

Here are three effective ways to use pauses in your next presentation, conversation, or meeting:

  1. Immediately after you make a critical point, pause.
  2. Immediately after you deliver a funny line or the punch line of a humorous story, pause.
  3. When you want more feedback, ask for it. When it starts to come, mentally hit the pause button.

All three techniques work because they give your audience, not just you, a chance to breathe, absorb, and process information.

Pauses should last longer than you think.

Time distorts in front of an audience.

When you first start to use a pause it will feel like an eternity of silence—but only to you.

A two-second pause to someone not used to pausing will seem like ten minutes of silence. But to the audience it will only seem like two seconds! You are the one who has to get used to the pause. Your audience is already fine with them.

Here’s an easy way to start using pauses:

Woman holding up her right hand

Pause during presentations

Ask someone you work with who you have a good relationship to give you a stop sign during conversations when they think that you pausing would help them digest what you’re talking about.

This will help you become more attuned to your audience’s needs—whether that’s an audience of one or one thousand.

The more you learn when to pause the more you’ll become comfortable with the pause and the length of it. Once you do that, you’ll discover that the power of the pause. A little silence goes a long way.

Play, Pause, Stop.

Too many professionals fall for the trap of beginning their presentation or conversation and plowing through it until they finish. Play button to stop button. By peppering your next presentation, conversation, or meeting with a few pauses, you’ll notice a greater connection with your audience. The people you address will begin to feel as if you are talking with them instead of at them.

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