There’s no point in you speaking if no one is listening.
How often have you been sat in the audience and the speaker has rambled through a complicated idea that you find difficult to follow?
At a live event, the audience often only get one chance to hear your message, and it’s up to you to make sure that they understand what you are saying, as you say it.
Pausing is like punctuation to your audience, it helps them understand you, and pausing is like punctuation for you, the speaker, too.
When you pause, it gives you time to breathe properly. It gives you time to think about what you are going to say next, it allows you to take control over your emphasis and delivery.
For the audience, it gives them time to breathe, time to think about what you have just said and it allows them to recognise your important points and they are much more likely to interpret your message in the way you want them to if you pause to let it sink in.
I don’t have any set rules for the length of pauses, it depends on your rate of word delivery, how fast you naturally speak.
There is a popular school of thought that suggests you should liken it to punctuation in the written word and pause for 1 second every time there is a comma, 2 seconds when you start a new sentence and 3 seconds when you start a new paragraph. Personally I think this may make some speakers sound a bit slow so my recommendation is that you practice pausing for yourself and see what length suits your delivery.
If you would like to know more about making an impact as a presenter, shouldn’t we be talking?