Public Speaking Tip from Mark Twain

Mark Twain said, “No word was ever as effective as the rightly timed pause.”

In fact, the pause may be one of the most useful tools in the communicator’s tool kit.  Pausing helps you gather your thoughts, adds drama, and shows confidence, all at once.

We also recommend pauses to help people who are told that they speak too fast. In fact, it’s our experience that most people don’t speak too fast. The average speaker speaks no faster than around 150 words a minute. Listeners can perceive in excess of 300 words a minute.

Usually, the reason you’re told that you speak too fast is that you don’t pause long enough to allow the listener to process your words.

Faster talkers who throw in pauses will appear to be slowing down.

Pausing is far better than actually slowing down the rate of talking. If you’re talking too slow, you’re going to sound tentative and flat.

How long should you hold the pause?  Longer than you might expect. Three or four seconds feels like a long time to the speaker. But it will make you sound nice and confident to your listeners.

So heed the words of Mark Twain. Throw in some pauses. You’ll connect better with your audiences.

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