Archive for July, 2012

Command Attention with the Surprising Pause

Monday, July 30th, 2012

http://youtu.be/Y6J2tqiXENc

In my last blog, I wrote about your use of pauses, to allow your ideas to land when you speak & engage your listeners.

Today, I’m going to talk about the power of the surprising pause. Successful business speakers, like good actors, use the surprising pause strategically to command attention and add depth to their message. The element of surprise is a key factor in capturing and keeping your listeners’ attention when you speak for business. Pausing at meaningful and surprising moments can be helpful to you in three ways:

1.   It creates variety in your delivery:  A moment of unexpected silence provides the greatest contrast to a stream of words.

2.   It creates suspense:  It teases your listeners for a moment, making them want to hear more.

3.   It gives your listeners a window into your inner world:  Listeners want to know what is “going on” with the speaker underneath the words.  A surprising pause filled with meaning allows your listeners to observe a different quality in your expressiveness and gain additional perspectives.

In the video version of this blog, I demonstrate now just how effective a surprising pause can be. You may wish to view that now; simply click the thumbnail for the video.

If you prefer to continue reading:
I use the following sentence as an example of the use of the surprising pause. It’s a sentence about concept of supply and demand: an excerpt from a play called Other People’s Money, by Jerry Sterner; which was first produced Off Broadway and later made into a film with Richard Dreyfus.  Here is the sentence:
“One day, when the dollar is weaker or the yen stronger, or when we finally begin to rebuild the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure of our country, demand will skyrocket.”

Logical but predictable moments to pause would be after the words, “day, stronger, and country”.   A more interesting choice would be to add meaningful pauses after the words, “dollar, yen, and demand”.   The surprise and suspense created in those moments leads to a more compelling delivery.

As you rehearse your business talk, consider why and when you will pause. Take logical, meaningful pauses at moments when those pauses might be most surprising.

Make your delivery truly compelling —  and captivate your listeners!