The Real Reason You Should Slow Down and Pause

There is a trend in recent years toward more informal, conversational presentations. For the most part, I like it. Knowing that you, as the speaker, can create an atmosphere that feels more like a dialogue with the audience helps people show up confidently and soothes nerves. 

But too often, speakers take this informality a step or two too far, into casualness. This matters because if the speaker is casual, our listening is, too. Our attention is more likely to wander. We aren’t sure what matters in the talk because it all sounds kind of the same. 

The easiest fix for this is to know what your important points are, and when you get to them, slow down. Actually. Land. Each. Word. So. We. Get. That. This. Is. The. Point.

This works because this is how we intuitively speak when we have something important to say. We don’t toss it off in a stream of other words, since it will get lost. When we really need someone to hear us, we know we have to slow down and pause. We typically also make strong eye contact, and we might speak a little more loudly.

It can feel challenging to do this, but think about how it’s perceived from the audience standpoint. You’re talking a mile a minute with no discernible breaks. How is the listener supposed to grasp the heart of your carefully crafted message? It’s indistinguishable from the rest of your talk.

Keep the informality. I love the feeling that you’re in conversation with the audience. But also do the prep work as a speaker to make sure the audience knows what the conversation is really about.

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