When we are excited, we often babble without a period or comma. Our own voice rolls over and the listeners lose the thread at some point due to increased speaking speed. This applies not only to conversations in small groups, but especially to speeches in front of an audience. Deliberately used breaks are not only an effective means of combating nervousness, they also guarantee successful presentations - because they give the audience time to process what they have heard. When set correctly, you can also increase the effect of your words enormously. What other benefits you and your audience will derive from the short periods of rest and how you can use breaks effectively is revealed now.
An important means to captivate your audience, besides exciting content, is one thing: Pausing! These are urgently needed to let new information sink in, to compare it with previous knowledge, to formulate any ambiguities and to gather initial ideas for using the newly gained knowledge. So before half the auditorium allows itself a break due to a reeling off information fireworks, switches off and no longer listens, you should consciously take short breaks for speaking, thinking and breathing!
Pauses generate tension
Breaks are a powerful tool for building up tension in lectures and are therefore one of the most important elements for successful storytelling - because breaks allow the dramaturgy to unfold.
Presentation professional Michael Moesslang gives to consider here that the perception of breaks is however very different. His tip: A break should be about as long as you count slowly to three in your mind. This may seem endless to you, but the audience perceives it as a pleasant and clear break. They hardly notice shorter pauses.
To stage such a break effectively, you can start an important statement by going to the left side of the audience. Then use the path to the right side of the audience to pause and continue speaking only after you have arrived on the other side of the stage. Don't let your audience out of your sight - they will definitely be fascinated to find out what happens next.
By the way, volume and speaking speed are further levers to increase the dramaturgy of your presentation. If you slow down at a dramatic point and at the same time become quieter, the tension rises immeasurably.
Tip: You also have to practice pausing! If you are standing in front of an audience, breaks are often omitted due to a perceived lack of time, slides are clicked through in a hurry and the speaking rate is increased. Rehearsals with camera and stopwatch are therefore essential.
Breaks offer a chance to process information
Unlike the written word, you cannot listen to the spoken word again during a speech. Should the audience not be able to follow the information immediately, a mental farewell is unfortunately often the result. It is therefore advisable to pause briefly after longer sections and to repeat the most important points. Allow your audience a visual break and add an appropriate slide to the information.
The most important Dos & Don'ts for extraordinary slides including "Pause" slide can be found here!
Important: Central information, arguments and statements can also be deleted by a following pause. This also increases the chance that your message is anchored in the subconscious of your listeners.
Breaks allow contact with the audience
In order to establish a direct connection with the audience, it is not enough to simply take a fleeting glance at them. You have to get in direct contact with your audience, look them in the eye, smile at them. As a result, your energy level will soar and everyone in the audience will feel addressed. What does it take? A break! By the way, you can take this break before your presentation and have a quiet look around at the start. The effect: It becomes quiet as a mouse.
But pauses in speech can not only help you to get the attention of the audience. You can also use them to structure your thoughts, to find the "red thread" again, to turn to the projection screen and back again or to take a deep breath in between.
Give it a try! You will be amazed at what you can achieve with targeted breaks. We wish you much success!