Leadership on Point

The Power of Pause

August 19, 2013 webmaster

The speaker thanked the MC for the introduction and launched into her presentation. We were still thinking of our lunchtime conversations, shuffling papers, checking cell phones and didn’t pay attention to the introduction or to the speaker’s first few sentences. She seemed unaware of that as she continued.

Only in the middle of her third sentence did most of us in the audience begin listening. Those crucial opening sentences were therefore lost. One can only imagine how much more compelling her presentation would have been had she captured our attention at the very start.

As an audience, we are often on automatic listening mode and need something to help us change gears. For most of us, our ears and brains actually welcome the signals that help us transition. We expect words, so when we get the unexpected, we sit up and notice.

In the theater, as the lights are dimmed, the audience collectively understands that moment to cease talking and focus on the stage. In a meeting, a lack of words can have the same effect.

So, give the audience the unexpected… and … STOP … before starting.

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