Engage Listeners: Pace Your Thoughts to “Land”

One way that successful speakers engage their listeners is by pacing effectively and allowing each idea to “land” before going on to the next idea.  This helps listeners understand fully and gives variety to the delivery.  I recommend a rehearsal exercise based on one that I learned from the Academy-Award-winning actress, Olympia Dukakis.

Today, I’ll present the first step in this process:  Think in thought groups, rather than thinking in words.  This will help your pacing become organic, authentic, and compelling.

Research tell us that people don’t think in words; we think and listen in complete thoughts.  Match the way you speak with the way your listeners listen!  Apply my adaptation of Olympia’s technique, which was originally created to help actors internalize the sections and emotions of a scene.  I have adapted Olympia’s technique for business speakers, so that you will develop greater sensitivity to your listeners and more consistently pause, tune in, and allow each idea to “land” before you go on to the next idea.

Begin rehearsal for any business talk with a simple exercise:

  • Set out a few chairs, as you would for the game musical chairs.  Begin by sitting in one of them.
  • As you rehearse aloud, move to a different chair each time you complete a thought.  Speak each complete idea from a difference chair.
  • Repeat this exercise until your mind and your body have internalized the moments when each complete thought has ended and the next one is about to begin.

This simple exercise will increase your awareness of your thought groups.  It will help you become more sensitive to your listeners and be better able to pause, tune in to the listeners, and allow each idea to “land” before going on to the next idea.

You listeners will understand more fully and be more fully engaged!

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