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The Power of a Pause


In our busy culture, there's an emphasis on speed and getting as much done as possible, frequently little appreciation for the power of a pause.
This is reflected in our long 'to do' lists, our body movements and our speech.
When I work with 1-2-1 clients, no matter what the scenario whether it be impact at interview, presenting, impact in meetings, one of the most common areas for development is the pace of their speech.

Of course, speaking overly slowly is not desirable as it conveys lack of confidence and negativity, which will disengage people and potentially make them impatient. However, speaking at break neck speed is negative too. For several reasons:

  1.  The clarity of your words will be lost and people will only ask you to repeat things once or twice maximum. This is particularly the case where people have a different first language.

  2. People won't have time to reflect on what you are saying.

  3. Fast speech, as well as conveying enthusiasm, can also convey nervousness and anxiety - both antidotes to confidence and credibility.

  4. Particularly with increased seniority, more thought and consideration is expected so 'pausing for thought' can certainly be a positive.

The key point to remember is that for the most part, when you are speaking to others, whether that be in a meeting, presenting or on the phone, you are conveying information that is new to them; even though in your mind you know it or you may be anxious about it so tend to speed up to 'get it over with'. It's the first way to lose engagement if people can't keep up.

If you think about presenting, you want people to engage as much as possible with your message to get the outcome you desire. So think carefully about the appropriate speed - you want to take people with you, not lose them! Also, consider the power of a pause. They are important for adding impact to specific points and allowing the audience thinking time. Always make it clear that it's a planned pause (using body language), rather than you just forgot your words. Keep a clear eye on the audience too, if they look like they need thinking time then pause. Pausing is particularly helpful to emphasise a point.

In any dialogue, the right speech speed and appropriate pausing will give what you are saying greater impact and increase the engagement you get!
Are you aware of how you come across professionally? Unless you are aware, you can't improve. Could how you communicate be holding you back professionally?

Read more about the role of your personal brand.

If you'd like to discuss how you engage with others and have a positive personal impact, contact me to arrange a complimentary, no obligation Career Booster conversation.

Personal impact is one of the nine skills needed for career success, receive tips and advice on it and the other eight skills, by requesting my free email series and downloadable booklet below.

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