Last week when I wrote about “The Um, Ah Problem”, I mentioned “The Two P’s,” phrasing and pausing. I’ve been asked to elaborate on this point following the workshop I presented at Watercooler in Tarrytown last Thursday on “How to Grab Your Audience.”
Effective communication should engage others, bring them into your message, inform them about what you know or your point of view. How do you engage people? Allow time for the listener to process what you’re saying.
When we translate our ideas into words, we think in phrases. The normal flow of speech occurs at the phrase level, not in perfectly formed sentences. Yet so many speakers rush what they’re saying, barely stopping to pause. If the listener can’t process the information you’re presenting, you lose your audience’s attention. Additionally, by speaking too quickly, how much do we set up the possibility of stumbling and not being able to find our words? Here’s the “um, ah problem” again. If we think in phrases, we should present in the same way.
What happens in those pauses? You take a breath — a key to relaxing yourself. You give yourself a split second to segue to a new thought. By pausing you can emphasize a word or a phrase. You can make use of intonation, rhythm and melody. Rushed speech loses many of these critical elements that contribute to natural sounding, effective speech. Good speakers use the brief moment of silence –the pause — to let an idea sink in, to emphasize a point, to reduce the “um, ah problem.” Most importantly, to keep the listener engaged, or put another way, to grab your audience.
Check back next week for more thoughts on topics in communications and speech.