Written By: Sheri Jeavons
Have you ever been in the middle of a presentation when all of a sudden your mind goes completely blank? You’re delivering your content and next thing you know, you’re at a total loss for what to say next. When this happens, you may start to ramble or you may begin using non words like “um” or “ah.” You might even turn around and start reading your slides to the audience.
If you do any of the above, it is no doubt embarrassing for you, but more importantly it becomes difficult for your audience to pay attention. If you start behaving in a distracting way, chances are they’ll miss out on the information you’re trying to deliver. To help ensure this never happens to you again, I’d like to introduce a new skill that will save the day. All you have to do is PAUSE. Pausing at the following times will help keep you on track and ensure that you’re audience stays engaged.
1. Pause instead of using non-words. Non-Words are filler words such as, ah, umm, also, ok, so, you know, like. Any word that is used excessively and connects your sentences is a non-word. Correct the use of non-words by pausing and taking your time to consider your next thought. Take a deep breath, stand still and collect your thoughts. Resume speaking to one person to get back into your flow. This will send a message to the audience that you are thoughtful, knowledgeable and patient.
2. Pause to look at your notes. If you’re presenting in a meeting while seated, pause to look down at your notes. Be sure to stop talking, look at your notes and be silent, and then resume presenting your information. Again, this gives your audience time to digest what you’ve told them. If you have distributed a handout and need to reference information, direct them to the correct piece of information, then pause to give them time to look at it. Once you see your audience looking back up at you, continue presenting your information.
3. Pause at the end of a sentence. Remember to pause and breathe after every important sentence or when looking back to the slide. Pausing will help you remember your next thought. It indicates that you are considering the needs of the audience and not racing through your material. It will relax you and conserve your energy. As a presenter, you may think it is important to keep talking, but this is a common misconception. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Pausing allows the audience to keep up with you and helps you relax.
4. Pause to reduce nervousness. Slow diaphragmatic breathing is the best way to control your heart rate and minimize excess adrenaline. A variety of problems can cause nervousness, but excessive adrenaline in your system is the main cause. Good preparation and practice can minimize most of your nervousness. However, you don’t always have the proper amount of time to prepare. Pausing is the most under-utilized physical element that can create a positive impact for your image.
Sheri Jeavons is a highly regarded communications consultant, dynamic speaker and entrepreneur. Realizing that…
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