Someone once told me that it is the stuff between the lines that make a great performance. I think that this applies to speaking as well. Messages aren’t just covered by what we say, but also by what we do not say. By this, I mean that pausing during a speech is of utmost importance, if we want to make it a great speech.
Pausing is not a moment of “nothing”. Rather, it is a tool that can help us to build a connection with the audience, whether emotionally or intellectually. When we pause at the right moments, we give our listeners the time to process what we say. We also allow our listeners to stay engaged, and this helps you to make them excited about what is to come.
Pausing is also important for emphasis. A lot of the time, our audience feels like we are saying the same thing over and over again (in other words, rambling), even when it is not our intention to do so. Pauses can help us to delineate our key points.
Pausing is even more important when we want to give our audience time to reflect on what we have said. This is especially so when we make statements that may be complex or even unusual. Pausing can indicate to the audience that you want them to think about what you have just said, without having to tell them to think about it.
Indeed, the most precious parts of a speech are the pauses. Know when to pause, and you’ll be a great speaker! As we always say, it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it.