The Pause, a second or two without speaking, is one of the most powerful elements you can use in speech delivery.
The Pause is to public speaking as a verbal underline or CAPS’ are to writing. Use it to emphasise your point or to add drama to your words.
The Pause will quiet a noisy audience. Remember the school teacher who could quell a noisy class with a long cool look at the students. An over enthusiastic question time can rattle a speaker and it can get uncomfortable at the podium. Maintain quality eye contact while employing an extended pause and you will be able to take back control. Bonus of the mute seconds is that it gives you time to think of a diplomatic or courteous answer.
The Pause is an effective tool when you are presenting a workshop. In your introduction to the workshop explain that when you need to recapture the group’s attention, following an interactive session, you will stop talking and raise your arm. They in turn should stop speaking and raise their arm until the whole room becomes quiet. Works like magic.
At the lectern, just before you speak, Pause, make eye contact and smile. Try it – you will find the audience will reward you with a boost of pure welcoming energy.