“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain
Many a speech has achieved glory thanks to the right use of a pause. Take John Kennedy’s epic address for example: “Ask not what your country can do for you [pause] ask what you can do for your country.” Or Franklin Roosevelt’s, “The only thing we have to fear is [pause] fear itself.”
However, one has to be careful not to use it too often. It becomes irritating when speaker takes long pauses frequently. Reserve it for the most important point of your story. Raise a question or make a dramatic statement and then take a pause slightly longer than you need to. Let curiosity build up in your audience and then hit the nail on the head!
“Friends, today I am going to share a secret that will change your life forever.”
Not only does it make a strong impression on their minds, it also exudes confidence and shows that the speaker is in complete control.
Did you know that besides your speech, you could also use the dramatic pause in your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation? Yes, there are several ways to do that:
- Delay showing your slide. “Gentleman, the next slide I am about to show will shock the hell out of you.” Take a slight pause and then reveal the slide.
- Use the ‘Delay’ effect on slide animation or transition (Rather than using default timings on animation or slide transition) Build up even more curiosity as the visual or text slowly appears on the slide with effects. Keep the audience guessing what’s in the slide till the last second.
- In stand-alone presentations, you can keep a few slides blank between the question and the solution to create suspense. It can work wonders.
Here’s a presentation that uses the dramatic pause effectively to heighten suspense in viewers:
Do you know of any other way to use the dramatic pause? Share with us in the comments below.