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The Power Of The Pause

I have been teaching presentation skills for years. What I notice time and time again is this:

Speakers dread pauses.
Audiences love pauses.

Why Do Speakers Dread Pauses?

Often, it’s because they feel that if they pause, they will seem boring. They may also worry that a pause signifies they have forgotten or just don’t know what to say. Speakers feel their pauses as a long, dead period of uncomfortable silence.

Why Do Audiences Love Pauses?

They have time to digest, visualise or apply to themselves what the speaker has just said. Or, they have time to imagine, predict or anticipate what is about to be said. They fill the silence with thought!

The bottom line is this: Your audience wants you to pause. It’s a gift of thinking time. So practise pausing more. Pausing is incredibly powerful!

When To Pause?

  1. Pause when you want them to digest and think“We’ve got a great plan and we’re ready to start. The question is, how long do we give it if we don’t get results? … ”

    “We’ve been having a great year, until this month. This is the first month we have not made a cent. …”

    Now, avoid filling the pause. Just stay silent. Don’t look at them expecting an immediate answer. Just think with them. When they see you thinking, they have permission to think too.

  2. Pause to let them anticipate and predict“With this package, everyone is going to get three things. …”

    Now, just pause. They will start guessing what the three things may be, and by the time you start telling them, they will be dying to know if they were right.

    “Last year we got seven new clients. This year, …”

    Now pause. Even if you just give them 5 seconds of complete silence, they will start predicting what you are going to say, and they will enjoy it.


Think about it. Isn’t it true that when you’re reading, you often stop reading just to think about what you’re reading? We all need pauses when receiving new information! So, give your audience the gift of time to think. Give them pauses!

Article written by Marianna Pascal

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© Shirley Taylor.
Shirley is a high-energy, high-content speaker who is passionate about motivating individuals to make a real difference in our automated world. With inspiring stories and a fun style, she engages audiences quickly, and encourages them to embrace high-touch as well as high-tech so they can connect with heart.

Shirley has been a trusted member of the professional speaking and training community for many years, and has received several awards for her services in leadership. She served as Asia Professional Speakers Singapore President 2011-12 and as Global Speakers Federation President 2017-18. She has spoken in almost 20 countries all over the world.

Author of 12 books published by international publishers, Shirley has established herself as a leading authority in workplace communication, business writing, and email. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition has sold over half a million copies worldwide and been translated into 17 languages.

If you would like Shirley to speak at your next event, visit

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