Pause to Deliver Effective Presentations


You’re right in the middle of delivering an important presentation when all of a sudden you lose your train of thought. You have no idea what to say next. Your mind goes completely blank. If you’re like most professionals I’ve talked to, you likely freeze and begin to panic. When this happens, you might start to ramble or use non words like “um” or “ah.” You might even turn around and start reading your slides to the audience. It has happened to most of us at some point in our careers. It is embarrassing to say the least. If you don’t react well, your credibility could be called into question. It can also be difficult for your audience to pay attention to your message. If you start behaving in a distracting way, chances are they’ll miss the information you’re trying to deliver.To help ensure this never happens to you again, I’d like to introduce one new skill that will save the day (and your credibility). All you have to do is PAUSE. Pausing at the following times will help you remain calm, stay on track and ensure that your audience stays engaged.


1. Pause instead of using non-words. Non-Words are filler words such as: ah, umm, also, ok, so, you know, like. Any word that is used excessively and connects your sentences is a non-word. Correct the use of non-words by pausing and taking your time to consider your next thought. Take a deep breath, stand still and collect your thoughts. Resume speaking to one person to get back into your flow. This will send a message to the audience that you are thoughtful, knowledgeable and patient.


2. Pause to look at your notes. If you’re presenting in a meeting while seated, pause to look down at your notes. Be sure to stop talking, look at your notes and be silent, and then resume presenting your information. Again, this gives your audience time to digest what you’ve told them. If you have distributed a handout and need to reference information, direct them to the correct piece of information, then pause to give them time to look at it. Once you see your audience looking back up at you, continue presenting your information.


3. Pause at the end of a sentence. Remember to pause and breathe after every important sentence or when looking back to the slide. Pausing will help you remember your next thought. It indicates that you are considering the needs of the audience and not racing through your material. As a presenter, you may find the silence awkward or uncomfortable. This is a common misconception. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Pausing allows the audience to keep up with you, gives them time to digest what you’ve said and it helps you relax to deliver a better presentation.

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