Pausing for Emphasis

Pausing for emphasis and drama is a way to make a main point stand out.

Pausing for Emphasis

This pause will usually be a bit longer than a punctuated pause. It allows for the mental traffic of the words in the audience brain to clear for the main point to enter and be absorbed. The dramatic points should be few so, these pauses should be too.

Pausing for drama or emphasis requires a really long pause. It will be limited to truly significant statements. This is not something that would be used in every speech you give.

It allows for anticipation by the audience for something to be said next as well.

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
 - Mark Twain

Imagine you just informed someone their mother just died. You would not keep talking. You would give a moment to let the news sink in. That is what this is all about.

I saw it best used when a speaker was explaining compassion and empathy. He paused and looked down at his notes. The pause continued as he lifted up his notes and looked at other pages.

A look of 'where did I put that…' came across his face. Then in what seemed an eternity, he had that light bulb over the head look on his face. He held up one finger as if to say, 'Ah ha.' He then reached into his pocket to pull out a piece of paper. He then asked the audience if they were starting to feel for him.

This pause probably took less than a minute. But it effectively illustrated to the audience the quality of empathy. It created drama. Imagine a speaker who doesn't know his next line. If you were a speaker how would you feel?

When to Pause for Emphasis

Dramatic statements, main points, points needing extra emphasis, or any point that requires extra attention are appropriate for this pause.

In my speech on my specialty of Bloodless Medicine and Surgery you will hear an example of pausing for emphasis.

When I make the statement...There are no high level studies from 1904 to the present that show that blood transfusions save is followed by a pregnant pause. The silence is deafening. Then a second statement...not one.... with a shorter pause.

Then following....All the high level studies show the exact opposite. From any transfusions to the more, there is a correlating increase in morbidity and mortality. When we get to 10 units, there is a 50-50 chance of mortality. Yet patients who have lost up to 95% of their blood are successfully being treated with advance transfusion practices.

Pausing for Transitions

Most public speeches will be limited to only a few main points. pausing allows for the audience mind to shift between points.

Briefly repeat the benefit statement of point one and pause. Then clearly state that you are moving on.

Sometimes it is best not to openly say first, second and third. Too many speakers will forget to say the numbers and this will have the audience listening for the number and not the point.

Pausing for emphasis, drama or transitions, mastery of this skill will help you look better than most of the other skills.

Other Public Speaking Pauses

Pausing to Allow the Audience Time to Think

The Pause in Public Speaking: The Basics

Pausing for Circumstances

Go to the Speaker Skills The Pausing for Emphasis Speaking Website

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