What Are The Rules You Have To Use And Remember For Pausing In Public Speaking?

Public SpeakingIt is not enough to know how to breathe and relax. It is also important to know when and how to take a moment, stop briefly, take a breath, before proceeding, pausing to reflect and, then moving right along.

The definition of pause is, it is a physiological and psychological manifestation of the principle of action and reaction that underlies all vocal expression.

Pausing is one of the most efficient ways to pace and set your speech up to not get lost yourself or lose others in the process, while you are up there.

It is a true art to master the “pregnant pause”, like asking a rhetorical questions and having it hang in the air, or briefly stopping but for a moment and letting the silence speak for itself.

It is a delicate balance and masterful craft. It showcases thinking and richness, variety of thought. If you do not seem rushed and at ease, taking your time, somehow audiences find it easier to follow and listen to.

It comes across almost more wholeheartedly. If you just rush, and skims over the content, it makes others wonder if you know it at all, have a hidden agenda or even might make some anxious.

If you do want to use the pause in your speech naturally, subtly and effectively, correcting current mistakes that you might perceive in your speeches, it starts with having a clear mind, focus and structured thoughts. You can only pause if you think about it.

The general guidelines you have to keep in mind are:

  1. Pauses create expectations, spontaneity, and deep feeling.
  2. It is natural, normal and OK to pause during public speaking. YOUR AUDIENCE WILL INDULGE AND FOLLOW YOU!
  3. Long pauses indicate importance and depth of thought.
  4. When conveying something of great importance it is always a good idea to use a pause of two
  5. You do this effectively by using slower movement and appropriately longer pauses.
  6. Grammar and related punctuation does not always serve the needs of speaker well. It does not follow natural rhythms.
  7. Good speakers often use pauses in their conversations
  8. It can be either short or longer, depending on the nature, meaning, intent and purpose of the use of the pause in a phrase, section or speech in general.
  9. It enables the spoken word.
  10. During the pause you are actively seeking, picturing, and weighing the thought, as well as allowing the audience to reflect on it as well.  This mental process will be followed and shared by all involved in this exchange and listening.
  11. It is not merely a rest or passage of time for the speaker.
  12. You might be looking for just the right word to say at the right moment to convey and idea or insight.
  13. Some refer to it as the  “eloquence of silence”
  14. This is also where speaker and audience meet – in the silent moments. Use it to your advantage!
  15. It is not a lapse in concentration or judgment; it keeps you involved and engaged fully.
  16. You are using these pauses to physically fill your lungs, catch your breath for your next sentence.
  17. To those listening to you, they might also need a welcome break from a constant flow of verbiage being thrust their way.

The principles to use and remember for pausing in public speaking:

Pause before:

  1. Conjunctions
  2. Relative pronouns
  3. Adverbs (generally)
  4. Prepositions (generally)
  5. The infinitive mood
  6. Relative pronouns

Pause after:

  1. The nominative phrase
  2. Words in apposition
  3. Each member of a sentence
  4. The objective phrase in an inverted sentence
  5. The emphatic word or clause of force
  6. The noun when followed by an adjective


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