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A true NO ZZZZZs presenter doesn't feel that he or she must constantly keep talking to keep the audience awake. Skilled speakers use the technique of silence to add to the overall effectiveness and polish of the program.

People in theatre have identified a whole bunch of different pauses which I'm sure they have fun playing with. I'm only going to address some of the most obvious and important ones here.

Remember from your public speaking course, you too are on stage, so below are some pauses for you to practice and then to use:


The shortest pauses, which last anywhere from one-half to two seconds, are for the simple purpose of separating your thoughts.

All you have to remember is to slow down. Give the audience a fighting chance to comprehend what you are saying.

Change your voice inflection slightly at the end of each thought to cue the audience the next thought is coming.

Also, use a short pause both before -- and after -- any phrase or word you want to emphasize. (Refer to this website's
'How to Deliver a Punch Line' article, for reference.)


Another neat pause is known as a "spontaneity pause".

This is a planned 'unplanned' pause used so that you don't look too rehearsed, which curiously, means it requires practice to pull off well.

You might apply this pause when you want to pretend to search for a word or phrase that you already know.


Long pauses of more than three seconds are very powerful! Again, long or "pregnant pauses" are powerful.

They command the audience to ponder, to linger long, on what you just said, that is if what you just said was worth thinking about.

Please - [pause] - [pause] - [pause] - don't be afraid to be quiet once in a while. The silence can call the audience to attention.

Like in the theater, a pause can dramatically increase your impact, and add an element of passion and power to your presentation.

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