“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
So said Mark Twain, and he knew a fair bit about words. One of the easiest ways to improve your presentation is to take his advice and learn when to pause.
If you ask a question, before you give the answer – pause. If you’ve just given a vital statistic – pause. If you’re about to give them you key point – pause, hit them with your killer argument and – pause again. Let it sink in.
Use the pauses. Look round the audience, and check that your point has hit home. It may well feel to you that a pause of a second or two is a long time, but for your audience, it’s gone in a flash. They need this time to take in your what you’ve told them and to relate it to your argument and their own experience.
Strange, isn’t it? We tend to spend so long searching for exactly the right word, honing this or that phrase. And yet the biggest improvement we can make might not need any words at all.