The Power of the Pause

Winston Churchill with CigarWinston Churchill once said, there is nothing more powerful than the words following a long pause.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the information being shared with us, we are now anticipating what will come next.  Great speakers are masterful at painting pictures in our minds, using strategic pauses to keep us in suspense and give us time to think, reflect, and become inspired!

If pausing is so effective why is it so often overlooked, especially in business presentations?  Three reasons.  First, we try to cram too much information into a short timeframe and don’t have time to pause.  Instead we should focus on three key points and leave everything else, that we might want to include, for the Q&A session.  Second, we think pausing will make us look unprepared and unknowledgeable.  This is false.  When you pause at the end of a sentence, it is thoughtful.  It is when you pause is in the middle of a sentence, you look lost.  Lastly, we are afraid to pause because we don’t want to be interrupted and lose our train of thought. When you are confident and prepared, engaging with the audience is exciting and makes your talk more enjoyable for everyone!

Winston Churchill also said that he spent one hour of time preparing for every minute he spoke.  I realize that most busy, business leaders don’t have that luxury, but if the goal is to inspire and engage our audience, we should be prepared and confident enough to pause for effect.   Now it is time for self-reflection.  How effective are you at inspiring others?  Are you leveraging the power of the pause?

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