Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video The Power of Pause, part of Communication Tips.
- I want you to listen to me read the following excerpt from a human resources manual. In this week's communication tip I'm going to highlight some ways to bring power to your messages. "Company policy results from a combination of ownership, "Management and employee input, "Experience and beliefs in how "To perform the customer's work. "It's specific statements or general parameters "That form the basis for acceptable "Employee actions or behaviors when performing their work." How about this time? "Company policy results from a combination of ownership, "Management and employee input, "Experience and beliefs in how to "Perform the customer's work.
"It is specific statements, or general parameters "That form the basis for acceptable employee actions "Or behaviors when performing their work." Can you guess the position from which I was reading this? Am I a junior employee, a new hire, an intern, or the VP of Human Resources? You probably guessed the VP position in the second read, right? Powerful speaking includes deliberate pauses, it has dynamic changes in pace and volume, and it lacks the sing-songy quality that some people equate with friendliness, and it's steady.
Researchers in San Diego State University gave over 100 students statements to read and told them that they were either in a high or low position of power when buying car. Surprisingly the students with the higher power scenarios changed their voices to sound more like my second example. The best example of this difference is Margaret Thatcher, the iconic "iron lady" and British politician. When she started her career her voice sounded much less powerful than it did later in her years, after working with a speech coach.
She was intentional about her delivery. Here's how you can take advantage of the power of the pause and other tips that will make your voice sound more powerful. Create fluid sentences. Awkward gaps happen when we tend to speak in chunks. When we do not think of the entire sentence before we say it and when we come across sounding labored. Let me do this in a more fluid way.
Awkward gaps happen when we tend to speak in chunks. When we don't think of the entire sentence before we say it and we end up sounding more labored. Fluidity in speaking is key. Try and connect your words until you get to a natural comma. For my non-English-speaking members out there I urge you to think through what you plan to say and practice it. When I was seven I lived in South Africa for three months and my English was really choppy.
Every time the phone rang, I noticed that my cousins would pick it up and say, "Hello?", then they would pause and then the would say, "Very well, thanks. And you?" I repeated that line ad nauseam. I would walk around the backyard and say it over and over and over until one day I built up the courage to pick up the phone and I said, "Hello? Very well thanks. And You?" Say the whole sentence until the comma. Now, if you pause you will inevitably add a filler and that habit is one that is very tough to break.
Silence you fillers, fluid talking is one way to increase your talking power but exterminating "ums", "ahs", "so", "like", or "you know" in between words is a sure way to sound more powerful. First, find out where it is you add the fillers. They usually appear in between the sentence, or sometime in between the gaps, and turn the volume off. This skill takes a lot of practice but it's possible to silence the fillers which will only make you sound more powerful because you will be increasing your pauses.
Pause with purpose. The more formal your speaking scenario is the more appropriate it is to use the pause. Public speakers who command the attention in a room are ones who pause at the end of a sentence and let the meaning of their words be absorbed. Pausing allows your audience to think, it allows you to slow your pace, and it demonstrates you comfort with silence. It fluctuates the overall volume of your speech, creating a dynamic flow.
It also slows you down, it slows down your rate and adds variety to the typical 150 to 200 speech rate tempo. As seen with political speeches, the more important the message, the larger the audience, the longer the pause. Pausing intentionally, not using fillers, and allowing for natural flow in your speaking will naturally make your voice dynamic and varied. Time your speech, record yourself and ask for feedback on rate, volume, pausing and overall power.
Imagine yourself in a powerful postion when you want to be heard, it really makes a difference.
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