The Power of Pausing

December 14, 2020

There’s a funny bit that comedian Jerry Seinfeld does about people’s fear of public speaking.  He refers to a study that says speaking in front of a crowd is the number one fear of the average person, and number two is death.

“Death is number TWO?!” exclaims Seinfeld.  “This means to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be IN the casket then doing the eulogy!”

Now we can laugh about that, but the truth is many of us aren’t crazy about speaking in front of an audience.  And when we do, we often rush through the material, and our rate of speech goes way up.  I can’t count the number of times clients have shared with our Wixted & Company training team the following, “I’ve been told that I talk too fast.”

The problem with talking too fast is that it can make it harder to connect with your audience.  You may have put together the greatest presentation ever – but if your rate of speech is a distraction, or if your audience can’t keep up with you, it is less likely that your message will be received by those who matter most.

You might find this surprising, but very rarely do we coach our clients to slow down – we are all wired to process language and to speak at a certain pace.  Instead, our Wixted & Company trainers have a simple tip for all of you fast talkers out there:


No really… there is power in pausing.

Not only does pausing allow your audience to absorb the good information you’re sharing, but it also gives you the time to collect your thoughts before moving forward strategically.

Think in terms of verbal periods, not commas. That little extra pause will make you seem more reflective, more in control.

So, the next time you’re in front of an audience, or looking into a camera lens, or even delivering a eulogy – be deliberate.  Pause.  And make a more powerful impression.


By: Jeff Johnson

Jeff is a former television anchor and reporter for CBS and ABC affiliates in the Midwest.  In those roles, Jeff has covered state and national events, including the World Series and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  He has interviewed former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, football great Walter Payton, and baseball legend Bob Feller. Jeff has produced and directed for the Kansas City Royals, Iowa State University, and the PGA Tour.  Jeff earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University, and he minored in Psychology.