The Power of Pace and Pause
5 Tips to Help you Pace!
Sam strode up to the podium with purpose. He introduced himself confidently…and then it happened. He looked out at the audience and felt the huge rush of adrenaline as it rushed through his system. From that moment forward, Sam’s presentation sounded more like a magpie chattering, than a competent sales rep delivering good news to the company. He left the stage wondering how everything plunged out of control so fast.
May I share something with you? The unintended delivery wasn’t completely Sam’s fault. He was experiencing a condition common to most humans. We all automatically speed up our speech patterns when we are excited, nervous or passionate about something. So, how do we stop what happens naturally?
Here are a few tips to slow down your pace and add pause:
1. If your rush occurs at the beginning of the speech, immediately ask your audience to perform a task, such as shaking hands with three people, and then BREATHE DEEPLY while they are distracted.
2. Stop thinking of silence as your enemy and learn how to make it your friend by pausing after emphatic statements. It gives others time to think and you the time to collect your forward moving thought.
3. Lengthen the duration of your eye contact with another. When your eyes slow down, so does your voice. Concentrate on a friendly face in the room for at least 3-5 seconds.
4. Create pauses by asking rhetorical questions, preferably one aimed at your audience in a personal way. “So why do you think the chicken crossed the road?” There is an automatic pause as you give your audience a moment to formulate personal answers.
5. Practice, practice, practice. Nothing slows down a speech better than knowing material so well that even orchestrated pauses feel second nature. Remember the cliché, “Oh, I can do that in my sleep!” Not a bad mantra to combat speedy speeches.
We may not be able to control the adrenaline coursing through our bodies, but we can fight back with these simple tools. By mixing up our pace, inserting appropriate pauses and taking a breather when needed, we can engage with both our topic and our audience professionally.