Archive for June, 2012

How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Ideas to ‘Land’ (Part 3): The Brief Pause

Monday, June 25th, 2012

In today’s videoblog, I’ll share the third and final step in my three-part series called “How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Your Ideas to Land.”

In my last two videoblogs, I talked about the first two steps in this process: (1) Speak in complete thoughts and (2) pursue your point with energy and focus.

Today, I’ll share step three: Pause briefly after speaking a complete thought, to allow the idea to “land”.

Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they prepare to speak. The tempo of the spoken word has a strong impact on the listener and directly influences the way speakers are perceived. This raises the issue of pausing.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to digest a complete thought. When you are speaking face-to face or on camera, your listeners need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  a palette that includes your visual as well as vocal delivery.  So, pauses are important.

A University of Michigan study revealed that speakers who never paused had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  The great British actor, John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!    He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time. Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”. Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea. The pause will also give you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level. During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain good eye contact.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input. They may lose some of your meaning; they might even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs while you communicate your own conviction that your message is important.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!

The Meaning of “No Problem”

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I’ve been thinking about how often each day I say “thank you” and how often others respond by saying “No problem.”

Most of us over the age of (you fill in the blank) were taught as children to say “you’re welcome” when someone says “thank you”.

What does it mean to speak the words “you’re welcome”?  It means that the speaker feels that the listener is welcome to all kindness, time, service, good will, energy, work, help, support, etc. that was given. It means that the speaker is pleased to give to the listener.   It expresses care for the listener.

If we look at the way speakers of other languages respond to an expression of gratitude, we see that it’s often about expressing pleasure in the act of giving.   Italians, in fact, use a word that means “pleasure” and “to please”.   Speakers of French and Spanish use words that actually mean “nothing”:  expressing the their sentiment that giving actually felt like nothing, compared to the pleasure one received in the giving.

What does “no problem” mean?

It means “you did not cause me a problem”.  It means “I don’t like problems, and I’m glad that you did not cause me a problem”.  Perhaps it means  “If my giving to you was going to cause a problem for me in any way, no matter how small, I may not have extended myself – or there might have been unhappy consequences.”

This is quite different from expressing pleasure about the act of giving.

Yes, I know that “no problem” is a “generational thing”.   But how do you feel when someone responds to your expression of gratitude by saying “no problem”?

If you feel uncomfortable in even the tiniest way,  might this be an important topic to discuss with your daughters and sons who are learning to navigate polite conversation to enhance relationships?