The value of the pause cuts both ways. Sure, it allows you, the speaker, time to gather your thoughts, but consider this: pauses are essential for your audience too. They need that time to track with what you’re saying and process the information accordingly.
Pausing in the Classroom
Let’s use a kindergarten class as an example. A typical kindergarten teacher not only slows down her rate of speech (aka “pace”), she also likely uses pauses to make sure the children are following along. She gives direction number one and makes sure they follow it. Then she gives the next direction and waits for them to accomplish the task. Finally, she gives the last direction and watches them successfully complete it.
In this face-to-face setting, it’s easy for a kindergarten teacher to know if her pauses are adequate, because she can see her students’ responses to her content with her own eyes. When speaking on camera, though, you don’t have the benefit of being able to visually assess whether your audience is following along. Instead, you have to assume that they are, and then allocate the proper amount of time for them to digest your content.
How Long is Long Enough?
In practical terms, that means pausing long enough to let your key ideas sink in, but how long is that?
Regular readers of my articles have learned that in order to ground yourself in on-camera performance, you need to visualize your viewer. Now let’s take that one step further: in order to judge the length of a pause, visualize your viewer’s reaction. Imagine them saying, “Oh, I see,” or “Okay, I get it.”
You need to create that silent space as a courtesy to your audience as well as a tool for enhancing your chances that they will remember what you’ve said.
Learn More: On-Camera Coach
If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.