Too often, novice speakers do not appreciate or make use of the pause because they are too intent on getting their speech or presentation over with as quickly as possible. The result for the audience is a barrage of constant verbiage which is exhausting for both the listeners and the speaker.
Handled correctly, the pause is exactly the same in public speaking as it is in normal conversation. Everyone (or most everyone) pauses in conversation. We pause to breathe. We pause to gather our thoughts. Some of us even pause for effect.
For many, however, the pause is sadly neglected at the lectern; and, that is a mistake. The ability to take a breath is rewarding for both you and your listeners. Constantly running out of air is inefficient because your focus centers on your breathlessness and not on your message.
I consider pausing a necessity because of the oxygen needed to support your voice. At the same time, I will tell you that it is a luxury as well, allowing you to be much more expressive in your delivery. However, pausing every 4 or 5 words is not what I am talking about. That manner of speech is called sing-song. Any delivery marred by a sing-song style becomes rhythmic. Once rhythmic, the audience focuses on the rhythm and not on the message.
Ideally, pausing occurs when you briefly interrupt your sentence to take a breath. This is called supplementing your air supply. You are not filling up your balloon of air, rather you are adding to your supply. It is what you probably do in normal conversation without thought.
Pausing can also occur when you are changing topics or moving from one paragraph to another. It is wonderful because it allows you, the speaker, to think, albeit briefly, and it allows your audience to categorize or organize their thoughts as well.
The 3rd occasion for the pause is when the speaker uses it for effect, creating a moment of silence. Pausing after a dramatic statement gives your audience a chance to reflect on your words, allowing your novel, revealing, rewarding, or surprising statement to take effect. This type of pause should be used sparingly. The difficulty with some who pause for effect is that they do it much too often. Just as it is better to say less rather than more, the same holds true for the pause which is used for effect. Use it sparingly.
Do not ignore the pause. Its benefits are invaluable.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate, and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice and presentation skills, Click Here for her 4-minute presentation, The 5 Characteristics of Dynamic Public Speakers.