The benefits of pausing during presentations

A slick and well-practised script, some witty asides, lots of eye contact, high energy – they are all very typical tools of a good media sales executive. But have you ever considered that your presentation skills could be strengthened by the use of a simple – and much underestimated – pause?

Think of a pause as much like a breathing space, something that we all need upon occasion; in the workplace it can be a coffee break, the opportunity to assess what you’ve achieved so far and what needs to be done next. A strategic pause in a presentation can have a similar effect – it creates opportunities:

The opportunity to reflect

It’s very easy for an audience to sit through a presentation, to hear and understand it, without it meaning anything to anyone. For a presentation to really hit home, your audience needs to feel something, your message needs to generate emotion and provoke a thought process of what it means on a more personal level. Now if you talk relentlessly, moving from one point to another, without creating any space in which your audience can absorb and process what you are saying, your message simply will not stick in their minds. However, a pause after each important point you want to make will give your audience the chance to reflect upon your words and resonate on a deeper level.

The opportunity for you to be more in control

Your primary concern, of course, is to get your message across to your audience, but pauses will also positively impact on how you are presenting. A pause at appropriate times will help you feel more relaxed and prepared to move on to your next important point. It also gives you the opportunity to check that you are taking your audience along with you and not leaving them behind, disinterested and unengaged.

Adding pauses demonstrates strength and confidence in what you’re saying. A calm and controlled delivery demands attention; a pause at strategic points throughout your presentation heightens that need for your audience to listen.

Pauses give you power and ensures that you are properly heard and understood – think of the phrase ‘hanging on your every word’. It may take a little practice to become comfortable with using pauses, but it’s well worth it for the impact you can potentially have in future sales presentations.

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