Twelve Days of Christmas…my true love is still at it….

All together now…

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me… six reasons to pause

Five golden stars

Four steps to answering questions

Three ways of avoiding ‘err’

Two brilliant questions

And a heart full of confidence and joy!

Ok, six reasons to pause…  Imagine the scene.  There you are in an audience, wanting and needing to hear what has to be said.  You lean forward, you see the speaker take a breathe. And they’re off….speaking ten to the dozen, words tumbling out of their mouth, spilling out into the room, gurgling and splattering and careering and bouncing into the air.  No matter how hard you try, it’s hard to keep track:

What was it they said?

How important was that?

Do I agree with that

But doesn’t that mean…?

After a while you stop trying to keep up and soon after that your thoughts start to wander and you look at your watch to see how long it is before you can escape.

You see, audiences need pauses as well as speakers.  Here are three reasons why audiences need pauses:

1. To process the information you have given them

2. To understand the importance of something 

3. To connect what you have just said to something they already know – either a point you have just made or something in their personal experience.  We know that this how people learn best – through connections- but only if we give them time!

And here are three reasons why speakers need to pause:

4 .The most obvious reason is so you can breathe!  We need to breathe so we can let our voices have that wonderful variety and timbre we know keeps audiences engaged and attentive.  We need to breathe so we don’t fall down!  We need to breathe so we stay relaxed and calm and in control.

5 .We need to pause to add impact to what we say.  Think of it as the bold/underline when you are writing.  Pauses add emphasis, make something important., draws attention to a particular point.

6.Pauses add in variety to your tone and pace of voice.  We all know what happens when we listen to a monotonous voice – Zzzzzzzz.  Adding in pauses keeps the pace varied and grabs our attention.

As a final thought for today – here are three occassions to pause.  Try them out next time you speak to a group…

1.  after you ask a question ( direct or rhetorical)

2. Before you make a point that you really want people to take notice of

3. After you have made a point that you want the  audience to remember.

Let me know what your experiences are of listening ( or giving ) presentations where there have been lots of pauses or none at all.  And remember to comment on what questions you want me to cover in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th days of Christmas

Want to give yourself the opportunity to practice your speaking skills, get feedback and build up a personal, powerful and persuasive speaking style?  Check out Phenomenal Woman Speaking Club…starts in January 2012.


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