The heartful presenter – part 4

The heartful presenter - part 4
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Influence minds and win hearts


In the last 3 articles, RAVI VENKATESAN has talked about the reasons public speakers fail, the 27 Cs of good communication, and he has taken a deeper look at body language and voice modulation. In this article, he explores the ‘power of pause’.

The tips and tricks provided in this article of the series have consistently been rated as the most valuable by the hundreds who have participated in our Heartful Presenter training. Let’s look at why the art of pause is so important, and how to pause.

PAUSE TO ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE IN CONVERSATION

As it turns out, we speak much slower than we can listen. The average person speaks at 125 words per minute, and can listen to 400 words per minute or even more. So what happens with the 75% mental capacity that is not used in listening?

There is a natural tendency for the mind of your listener to wander, even if the subject matter is interesting. By structuring your content to have logical points of reflection, you can draw in your audience’s attention. For example, if you make a point, you could follow it by saying, “Consider that for a moment,” and pause. Now your audience is thinking about the point you made, instead of their mind wandering. You have moved them from ‘disengaged’ to ‘participating’; passive to active.



COMBINE PAUSE & RETENTON TECHNIQUES

The research about how much of a talk people retain varies wildly, however everyone agrees that a lot of what is said is forgotten. Providing spaced repetitions and context, are great ways to improve retention. All these rely on pause:

Spaced repetition

Here is an example: at the beginning of a talk you say, “The West faces a severe demographic challenge, with the average age in most countries being well in the forties.” After talking about a few other things, you could say, “Remember I said that most countries in the West have populations with an average age in the forties,” and then pause. This lets the audience connect your previous statement with the current one and absorb the information better.

Context

Make a point, and then provide context around that point. Pause to let your audience understand your point in that context. For example, you might say, “Close to 2% of people in China live on less than two dollars a day.” Consider, however, that this number used to be almost 20% just ten years ago.” Pause to let them assimilate your point in the context you just provided.

ELIMINATE FILLER WORDS

Filler words such as “Uh”, “Um”, or “Like”, which is common with teenagers and young adults, are extremely distracting; the speaker comes across as unprepared. Fillers completely take away the effectiveness of the point being made. They occur because we are thinking and speaking at the same time, and sometimes lose our train of thought. Instead of using filler words, pause. This is a much more elegant way of getting back your train of thought.

DEMONSTRATE CONFIDENCE AND CONTROL

Speakers who speak fast and don’t pause come across as nervous and lacking in confidence. By pausing and making purposeful eye contact in silence with your audience you will demonstrate confidence and balance. This in turn helps them feel secure and reassured that you know what you are doing, and they will derive more value from your session.

Let’s now discuss how you can practice and develop pausing. Here are a couple of exercises:

1) Pause based on punctuation – Write out a few ideas on a sheet of paper. Now record them in a short 5-minute talk. Listen to the recording of yourself and mark the places where you did not adequately pause where there was a comma, a semicolon, or a full stop. Repeat this exercise until you are satisfied that you are pausing adequately.

2) Pause longer to emphasize – Ask a friend to listen as you go through 2 to 3 short sentences. For example, “Hi, I am John. I am here to discuss the importance of recycling with you.” Pick a word that you really want to emphasize. For example, “I am here to discuss the importance of recycling.” Pause much longer after this word than you consider adequate. Ask your friend if your pause felt uncomfortably long. Keep increasing the duration of your pause until she says “Yes,” and then dial it back just a little.

You can also watch videos of accomplished speakers to see how effective this technique can be.

May the Pause be with you!



Article by RAVI VENKATESAN


 

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