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PAUSE IfYouDon’tPauseItLooksAndSoundsLikeThis!

Updated: Mar 9


The P-A-U-S-E: A Major Element of Verbal Communication The Pause

Question: What if my entire Post was written like the Title?

How long could you read it and what would you understand?

Answer: Not Long and Not Much!

The same applies to your audience if you Talk, Talk, Talk and don’t P-A-U-S-E.

The people watching and listening to your presentation will never GET IT! if you don’t give them the opportunity to ingest and digest your material.  We think by associations and our brains need to take in and process what information we’re bringing in and determine what “files” in our brains they belong in.  That’s pretty hard to do if you don’t PA– — USE every once in a while.

Claude Debussy, the famous French composer, said, “Music is the silence between the notes.”That analogy can also be applied to speaking.

Pausing lets the audience know you are in control, better keeps their attention, and increases the odds they’ll GET IT!


  1. Before you Open your presentation.

  2. PA-U-S-E almost so long that people are starting to say, “He’s lost it!”

  3. When you do speak, you will have their total attention.

  4. After stating something you want to sink in.

  5. The silence forces this.

  6. Before repeating something for emphasis.

  7. The PA-U-S-E gives the repetition more emphasis.

  8. To separate thoughts and allow the audience to absorb it before moving on.

  9. If you want to build anticipation.

  10. It will get the audience wondering, “What’s next?”

  11. Before answering a question.

  12. You’re showing the audience:

  13. It’s not a canned response.

  14. You’ve thought about your reply before answering.

  15. You’ll better have their attention.

  16. After asking the audience a question.

  17. It makes them think and get more involved with your presentation.

  18. In delivering a Parenthetical Statement.

  19. A Parenthetical Statement is a temporary departure from the main theme.  It is a statement that, if you were reading it, would be in parentheses.  In delivering your talk, you speak that thought to your audience.  It can add a new dimension to your presentation.

  20. It can be an extremely effective way to step out of your speech, make a specific point, and reinforce your connection with your audience.

  21. For instance, I might be talking about hard work, then PA-U-S-E, and state, as if in parentheses: “Speaking of hard work, tonight’s program would have never happened had it not been for Jackson Smith’s untiring efforts and attention to detail.”

Consider using the Spontaneous Pause. (It will seem spontaneous to the audience because you’ve rehearsed it so well!) If you stop yourself part way into a statement, pause, then go in another direction, that next set of statements can be powerful.

Example: In the closing of one of my talks, I say, “The next time someone gives you the opportunity to speak, (Pause) Check that statement! Don’t wait for the opportunity – Seek it out! Look for it at your . . .”

PAUSING is not easy for most of us.

We’re often nervous, talk quicker than normal, and “want to get it over with!”   It’s also natural to want to fill “blank” air with something.  If it’s not continuing to talk, it’s speaking “fillers”:  um, ah, and like.  Those “fillers” can be very distracting, and if you drop them, you’ve picked up your PA– — USE!

Practice PAUSING just like you practice all the other elements of verbal and nonverbal delivery.

OK?  Ready – Set – P-A-U-S-E!



About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and“NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

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