If you can master these two key delivery techniques, you will give the impression you’re a competent, experienced speaker, regardless of whether you are or not.
Consider a speaker you admire.
Barack Obama, Brené Brown, Simon Sinek.
What do they have in common? Confidence, sure, but what is confidence made up of?
All effective speakers are prepared to take their time, and they’re comfortable in silence.
Pace and pause.
Let’s unpack each.
What’s one of the biggest 'tells' of nervousness? A fast pace. When we’re nervous our heart rate increases, which causes us to speak quickly.
If you do tend to get nervous (and if you don’t…don’t lie), it’s worth remembering your perception of time goes out the window when you get up in front of an audience. In other words, a pace that seems paaaaainfully slow to you, is probably only just a comfortable listening pace for your audience.
This means you must actively fight the urge to speak quickly. Keep it absolutely front of mind from the moment you open your mouth to speak.
You will benefit in three ways:
- Your audience will have time to process what you’re saying
- You’ll give the impression you’re cool, calm, and in control, and
- Your thoughts and words will be able to work together
Establishing a good pace will also set you up to use pause effectively.
There. is. nothing. wrong. with. silence.
As far as I’m aware, no speaker has spontaneously combusted into thin air after taking a pause.
Pausing adds emphasis to important phrases, it creates tension, and it allows breathing room between ideas.
Because you can’t rely on your sense of timing when you’re nervous, hold your pause for two beats longer than you think is necessary. Your audience lean forward in their seats, captivated.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Your first pause should take place before you start talking.
Time and time again, I see speakers race up the front to speak, and before they’ve even got to the spot where they intend to deliver their talk, they’ve already launched into their opening. (Another sign of nervousness).
The best speakers know they are ‘on’ from the moment their audience can see them. They walk comfortably to their speaking spot. They pause. They eyeball their audience. They smile. They take a strong grounded stance and adopt open body language and only then, do they open their mouths to speak.
Meanwhile, their audience settles and subconsciously thinks, "Man, this person, really has something to say."
Pace and pause. Regardless of how you feel when you get up to speak in front of an audience, if you can train yourself to take your time and be comfortable with silence, you will you give the impression you’re a competent, experienced speaker, regardless of whether you are or not.