Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Speaking Pause. . . Why We Won’t Stop Talking!

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Speaker Tips — Larry James @ 7:30 am
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Rich Hopkins, Guest Author

I love the pause… and the pause loves me.

The pause is one of the few friends a speaker can actually take on stage with them, as they face the expectations of their audience. But it is a friend often scorned and forgotten by many as they blow through their presentations like Jimmie Johnson blows through the NASCAR circuit.

pause3Speaking shouldn’t be a race, whether it be a race to fit everything in, or a race to sit down and be safely silent again. Instead, its your opportunity to express yourself, to influence, and inspire to action. If people can’t keep up with you, the chances of anything good coming out of your talk diminishes.

6 Reason We Talk Too Fast

1. We’re subconsciously afraid that we will be interrupted, as if we were talking around the water cooler. If we don’t stop talking, we won’t lose the floor, be forced to answer questions, or, in a sales situation, hear “NO” before we’re ready to handle it.

2. We’re afraid to forget. We think that as long as we know what we’re going to say next, we may as well go for it, so not to allow our mind to go blank.

3. As mentioned above, we have so much to say, we don’t think we have enough time to say it. Check out this post on editing to diagnose and treat this particular issue.

4. We aren’t emotionally connected to what we’re saying. We may be reciting a report or going through a scripted talk we’ve given dozens of times in the past, and our lack of excitement results in non-stop, often monotonal diatribe that leaves the audiences as bored as we are.

5. That’s what we’ve seen. We’ve grown up listening to commercial messages, slick salespeople, even teachers and preachers who pummel us with words at such a high rate of speed we’re more tired than inspired by the time they sit down. If that’s all you know, then that’s what you’ll do. (This concept also explains poor customer service and bad drivers.)

pause6. We just want it to be over, as fast as possible.

What are some of the benefits of using a pause? Are there other causes you can think of for speaking at top speed without time to take a breath? It’s time to examine why we must stop, and find the crucial Silent Seconds in our presentations:


1. Connection – pauses allow the audience to see the speaker as a human being, instead of a flapping mouth, perhaps with flapping arms to boot. (pause)They give your audience a chance to catch a glimpse of you in silence, see the look in your eyes, and understand the expressions on your face. Be aware that all of these must aspects of your presentation must be in line with your message. When you pause, take a hurried drink, and sift through a pile of notes, you are no longer in tune with your words, which creates a disconnect.


2. Understanding – if you’re discussing new or complicated concepts (communication techniques for husbands, for example), use the pause to let your audience catch up. (pause)Watch your crowd and look for confirming or confused looks. You may need to repeat or clarify, or allow questions to be asked. If you don’t pause to be sure your audience understands, the point of the talk becomes moot.


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3. Impact – when you’ve made your most important statements, a pause is a flag that helps the audience identify that fact. (pause)Particularly a pause followed by repeating the statement, followed by another pause. Slowing down the pace to make sure the audience is clear that THIS is what they need to take home with them is worth the effort, and separates the moment from your faster-paced stories and transitions.


4. Effective Storytelling – nothing steps on laughter, runs over a dramatic twist, or plain neuters a story like the lack of Silent Seconds. Pausing gives your audience the chance lean forward in their seats and mentally beg for more. Take advantage!


When you write your speeches, watch for your Silent Seconds – those times a pause will enhance the connection, understanding and impact of your words. (pause)You’ll find them naturally in your punctuation – when your sentence ends with a period, thats a clue.


As I regularly recommend, record yourself, and listen for places your pauses should be, and where they should possibly be longer. (pause)You may fear pausing too long, but typically, the pause in our head is twice as long as the pause the audience observes. (pause) Exercise – try to deliberately pause for 5 seconds. It’ll drive you crazy, as it’ll seem more like 10 as you stand in silence.


There are dangers to using pauses as well, but we’ll tackle those later on. For now, take a look at how Silent Seconds will impact your speaking, and impact your audience. Now get out there and remember to Speak (pause) and Deliver!

Copyright © 2014 – Rich Hopkins. Rich offers one-to-one coaching to help you jumpstart your speaking abilities. Whether you are speaking to corporate executives or Cub Scouts, board members or family members, Rich will help you craft your message and delivery to maximize audience interaction and response. Visit Rich’s Website.



Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Articles: The Two Elements of a Great Presenter The Speaking Pause… Why We Won’t Stop Talking! Giving a Speech? Let Others Do Some of the […]

    Pingback by Are You a New Speaker? Start Here… | Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James — Thursday, August 7, 2014 @ 7:48 am | Reply

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