Have you ever noticed why some people succeed as powerful public speakers? One salient reason is they know how to use the power of pauses. 

“Along with rooted passion and deliberate enthusiasm, pauses are the true launching pads of any great verbal impact,” says Eric Stone, a leading expert in how to improve communication with others, public speaking and performance. “A great actor or politician is amazingly gifted at pauses.”

So, why is it that many people continue speaking nonstop instead of pausing when they want to emphasize important points? 

“Strangely, pausing makes most people highly uncomfortable and feeling exposed,” says Mr. Stone. “When we pause, we suddenly sense the pressure to be interesting or good and we fear that if we do not rush to speak we’ll look unprofessional, stupid or worse that we’ll die.”

Mr. Stone, a former New York City stage and television actor, operates Speakers and Artists International, Inc. (www.publicspeakingconnection.com) in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“Paradoxically, pausing places the much-needed attention on us,” he explains. “It is the raison d’être of a pause to make you look and sound good.”

When you speak, Mr. Stone says people in your audience will focus on four things in this order:

  1. Facial expressions
  2. Voice tone
  3. Gestures
  4. Postures

“When you pause, all four elements are magnified and amplified,” he adds. “Rather than welcoming the attention, most people ironically flee this immediate yet necessary promotion to star status.”  

As an example, he cites one of the great classical composers.

“It is the pauses that create rhythm not elocution or melody,” he asserts.” Mozart also said it ‘Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.’”

In speaking, Mr. Stone says your technique “shines as a consequence of well-planned pauses not elocution and the quality of ideas alone.”

His recommendations on practicing the art of pause:

  1. By deliberately intending to pause.
  2. Pause twice as long as you speak, you’ll be amazed at the results.
  3. By welcoming the intensity of focused energy that will inevitably come at you when you pause.
  4. By allowing yourself to plant firmly in your body and breathing so that you can use the energy of your pauses to impact your listeners effectively.
  5. By watching what happens when you pause if you ever wondered how people are taking in your message. They can only listen to you and digest or reflect when you pause.
  6. Think of each idea spoken as a bite within a course. Your communication or presentation may have one course or ten. If you metaphorically throw all the food at them in one sitting, no wonder they get angry or utterly confused.

From the Coach’s Corner, more speaking tips:

How to Get More Opportunities as a Guest Speaker – If you’re successful in generating speaking opportunities, you’ll create opportunities for your career. 

How to Obtain the Most Profit from Speaking Opportunities – It’s one thing to be invited to speak at your industry’s major event. But it’s another to create the right impression for your hosts, your audience and prospective customers or clients. There’s more to it than you might think. 

9 Tips to Connect with People after You Make Your Speech – Typically, in making a speech at a public forum, businesspeople hope to get a return on their investment. After all, giving a great speech or serving on a panel before a targeted audience necessitates your valuable time and effort in preparation. 

Public Speaking Tips – for Speeches in Accepting Awards, Honors – So you’re about to be honored for your pro bono work, volunteerism, or for creating a foundation to fund scholarships for education. But you get stage fright or don’t know how to most-effectively frame your acceptance speech? 

Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships with Effective Meetings – How are you faring with your clients? Not sure? To be certain you’re doing well, you must ask yourself three key questions. 

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives.” 

-Lilly Walters


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.