13 Secrets of Effective Presentation Skills – Secret #6

Secret #6 – Pause.

Most of us are at least a little apprehensive when presenting, and some of us are petrified. And one of the side effects of adrenalin pumping round our system is the effect it has on our perception of time. It distorts it. When we are nervous, what appears to be a perfectly decent pause to you the speaker is unnoticeable to the audience.

Why does this matter?

Simple. We want to engage our audience. We want to achieve our aim, we want them to get the “what’s in it for them”. We want to be not only heard, but understood and remembered. Now here’s the thing. There is only so much any brain can absorb at any one time – however intelligent and brilliant. And we need to receive our information in chunks. Bite sized mouthfuls. We need mental space to think, to consider, to muse, to compare with what we know already, to say to ourselves “Hmmm, that’s true/interesting etc” before being ready to receive the next mental mouthful. If you do not pause enough, you will cause your audience to get frustrated & even angry, because you are not giving them the mental space to digest what you are telling them.

Imagine a bowl of muesli in front of you for breakfast. You and I both know that such a dish requires a lot of milk to lubricate it and a great deal of chewing through all the nuts and seeds and grain before it’s ready to swallow.

How would you respond to someone really bossy who said you had only 90 seconds to eat that whole bowl, and that you are only allowed an egg cup full of milk to wash it down? Not an enticing prospect. But this is what you do to people’s brains when you don’t pause for long enough. So…..PAUSE for longer than feels comfortable.



Best wishes