The Power of the Pause

I have delivered a number of talks recently to students at Schools and Colleges on the subject of Effective Communication and Body Language Skills, for job interviews in particular. One of the most important tips I share is the power of the pause.

This has many benefits. Aside from using this tool for dramatic effect, using a pause allows you time; time for you to take a breath, to gather your thoughts and for your audience to take on-board and think about what you have said. But the pause has another very important advantage. It replaces what I call ‘redundant language’. These are the words or expressions such as: ‘er’, ‘um’, ‘to be honest’ (does this mean you haven’t been honest until now!), ‘do you know what I mean?’, ‘at the end of the day’ (do you mean now?), ‘at this moment in time’ (again does this mean now? If so, say this!). Most of us use these expressions. They have become habitual; part of our language.

It can be difficult to break a habit. I have trained myself to use these less. As I explain to younger students, many years ago, I bought a money box. I asked my family every time they heard me utter one or any of these meaningless words or phrases, to put 50 pence in the box. You guessed it; it was full after one week! So you can train yourself to use these less; it does actually work.

Of course, you don’t have to spend a fortune like I did! You can simply record yourself speaking and play this back; did you manage to reduce the number of useless words or expressions and replace these with a pause?

By the way, a pause may seem like an eternity to you, but is in fact only a second or so. But remember, the pause can be a very powerful tool. Try it and let me know how you get on.