For a decade or so, I have been teaching communication skills, verbal and written. Although each requires unique skills, both share skills and techniques to maximize effectiveness. One of the first groups that I worked with on presentation skills was a group of chefs from around the States. For two weeks, we practiced and honed skills in proper public speaking. I’d like to think they took away with them many lessons learned but the one I hope remained with them to this day is the idea of PAUSE. “Pause is the aspirin of public speaking”, I told them. You take an aspirin for various ailments; a headache, a tooth ache, anxiety, to avoid a heart attack, etc. And before you know it, ailment gone! The same is true of ailments in public speaking, only you don’t pause and take an aspirin, you simply just pause.
Forgot what you were about to say … pause, take a deep breath and see what happens. If you are one of those somewhat annoying people who say, “um” a lot, try a pause and you’ll be cured. Get nervous before hitting the stage, pause, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are the best person to do this. Whatever troubles, flaws or ailments you might have in public speaking, a simple pause (and throw in a deep breath for good measure) will change your game.
And why not pause before you hit that "send" button ... think about all the miscommunications you could avoid if you just paused and reread.
During a recent long term engagement with a global financial services company, we found another benefit for a pause. For six months, teams gathered on a regular basis to pause, plan and regroup. We implemented big changes, impactful programs and some serious strategic resource allocation initiatives. Really big stuff! When asked what drove the successes that each team attained, every one of them cited pausing (maybe not that exact word) and taking the time to work together as a team. Breaking down silos, learning from co-workers and just stopping the fast-paced world and talking to each other.
Isn’t it interesting that something so simple can be so impactful. Now PAUSE, take a deep breath ..and think about when you need to pause.