Timing is essential when speaking in public. The cliché, “It is not what you say, but how you say it” applies a great deal to public speaking. Where you put your pauses creates drama during your presentation, which maintains an audience’s interest. Throw some humor in and you have them right where you want them.Do not forget that when you expect laughter to burst at any time, pause after the punch line before being drowned out by the roar of the audience. Make sure to remember that laughter is extremely difficult to get, so don’t pander to the audience. Speak conversationally about a funny situation related to your presentation and let the audience find its own humor. Never say, “A funny thing happened….” This telegraphs your attempt at humor and can fall flat if the audience doesn’t find your story funny. You’ll be given a charitable chuckle.
The audience size could also affect the way you use your timing. When the audience is small, the presentation you have will most probably be delivered in less time compared to a large audience. Also, the reaction of a large audience will be longer and not as quick compared to a smaller audience. As a result, you have to wait until the ripple effect of your punch line gets to your audience in the back row.
Believe it or not, putting that much needed silence in your presentation is one of the hallmarks of a skilled and good presenter. No public speaker should jabber constantly away in the hopes of keeping an audience glued to a presentation with no end in sight. Good speakers add signposts to their presentation by implying that the end of a presentation is near whether they are at the end or not. Mentally, it makes the audience feel that if they hold on a little longer, it will be all over soon. No matter how captivating you may be, an audience mentally begins to shut down if you don’t provide those signposts.Short pauses are effective to use in order to separate your thoughts. These pauses last from half a second to two. You do not have to literally count though, just keep in mind to slow down. This gives the audience a chance to absorb all of your information. It also helps if you change the inflection in your voice during the end of a thought as this could also signal to the audience that another thought is coming their way. Pauses are also an effective means if you want to highlight something. Put a pause before any word or thought you want the audience to focus on to sink in.
Creating drama through pauses allows you to be more charismatic and engaging with audiences. A great presentation is a like a chess match. Even if you are leading, you want to draw the audience in by letting them come to you.