November 14, 2019

Effective Ways to Use Pauses in Presentations

Pauses in speech are a simple but extremely effective means of building tension and stimulating interest during presentations. Wrongly used, though, they can be a bit of a disaster for the presenter, as they can quickly start to feel awkward to the audience, making the speaker seem nervous.

We’ve identified a few types of pause and how to use them below, so you can make full use of them without tripping up.

  • Pauses for Emphasis

A pause after a key statement or fact underlines its importance, indicating to the audience that they ought to pay attention to what has just been said.  Don’t pause for too long, though, or your audience will start to feel uncomfortable.  For maximum effect, it’s best to limit their use to three or four times per presentation.

  • Pauses for Confidence-Boosting

If you feel towards the middle or end of your presentation that your self-confidence is dwindling or that your presentation is running less than smoothly, don’t be afraid of taking a short break to recuperate. A short pause gives you as the presenter the opportunity to breathe, gather your thoughts, and carry on, refreshed.  Again, keep it short and the audience won’t notice any insecurity on your part.

  • Pauses to Digest Information

There are times during a presentation when you notice your audience beginning to disconnect. That’s not necessarily because your audience is bored – when faced with a glut of information, the brain needs a moment or two to process properly.  By pausing here, you are giving your audience a chance to digest the facts and figures or arguments you have just presented, allowing them to listen properly to the rest of what you have to say.

By identifying and using these different types of pause, you can significantly improve the quality of your public speaking and the lasting impression you give as a speaker. You will be astounded at how much you can increase the impact of your presentation by saying less rather than more!

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