Friday Tips for Speakers – Praise of the Pause

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.

3 -7 Seconds to Prove

Researchers from NYU found that it takes us between three to seven seconds to make a judgement about a new person. During that time our brains are slicing our first impressions about how the person’s grooming, dress, posture,body language, smile and attitude affects us. As these snap decisions are based on  cultural and emotional issues it is unlikely you can be all things to all people.

But things you can control, appearance, will give you a head start in creating the right impression.   First attention to all those little and not so little give-away signs that signal you care  – in other words grooming.   Obvious stuff like a manicure, good haircut, clean shoes, nasal or ear hair trimmed, stockings without a run and a good deodorant.

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society said Mark Twain. Obviously from his final sentence Twain lived in another century where a sight of a well turned ankle from under a long skirt could get a gentleman’s  blood rising.  But his quote clothes make the man/woman is still sound especially when standing in front of an audience.

Your choice of dress should reflect the audience and environment.  A big pucker event requires  formality, an all day gardening workshop does not.  There are shades of grey (not Fifty) when choosing the appropriate garb. Research your market/audience. Ask yourself how will they relate to you if you wear your ‘going out best’ or would they be more comfortable with something less obvious.

Finally make sure the outfit you choose is comfortable and you feel good in it.  Feeling good = increases confidence.  Oh and one other thing – SMILE it is one of the key things that contribute positively to that 3/7 second prove.