The Power of Pause: Enhancing Your Speaking with Strategic Silence

Monique Bradley Keynote & Education - UFBA Conference

The Power of Pause: Enhancing Your Speaking with Strategic Silence

Kia ora! Ko Monique Bradley toku ingoa. He Kaikorero ahau.

I’m Monique Bradley and I’m a storyteller.

I love bringing elements of my theatre training into my speaking gigs. When I started training as an actor and speaker at the age of 8, I was taught the key foundations of good speaking technique that I still refer to and teach today: Pitch, pace, emphasis, inflection and my favourite…….

But wait……there’s more………Pause.

The power of strategic pauses in public speaking is a game-changer in your speaking delivery. Yes, you heard that right. Sometimes, it’s what you don’t say that speaks volumes. So let’s dive into how embracing silence can actually amplify your message.

The Magic of Pauses

Pauses are like the white space in a painting; they give the audience a chance to absorb and reflect on your words. Pauses can be a speaker’s best friend and using pauses every 5-10 words, allows the message you’re sharing to resonate more deeply with your audience​​. They are also the best way to overcome the dreaded ‘ums’ and ‘ah’s’ that have crept into presentations. These filler words – in my opinion – are either learned behaviours and mimicked vocal patterns, a product of nerves, or have ended up being added into presentations where speakers need to allow their brain and their mouth to get back in synch. Pauses solve all of these challenges, while creating powerful dramatic effects.

Commanding Attention with Silence

A well-placed pause can command attention like nothing else. It’s a moment of anticipation, where the audience leans in, eager to hear what comes next. This can be particularly powerful after delivering a key point or before a significant revelation.

Pausing for Effect

Pauses can be used for dramatic effect, to emphasise a point, or to create a moment of reflection. They give your words weight and gravity, allowing your message to sink in and leaving a lasting impression.

The Practicality of Pauses

From a practical standpoint, pauses allow you to catch your breath and gather your thoughts. They’re a tool to regain composure, especially if you’re feeling nervous. Remember, public speaking is a performance, and every performer needs a moment to compose themselves.

Crafting Your Speech with Pauses

When crafting your speech, think about where pauses would be most effective. Look for natural breaks in your content where a pause could heighten interest or add emphasis. Practicing your speech with these pauses in mind will help you deliver them more naturally.

Pauses in Different Settings

The effectiveness of pauses can vary in different settings. In a large auditorium, longer pauses might be needed due to the sheer size of the venue. In a more intimate setting, shorter, more subtle pauses might be more appropriate.


Embracing the power of pause is a simple yet transformative technique that can elevate your public speaking. It’s not just about the words you say, but also about the spaces you leave between them. Remember, in the art of communication, sometimes silence speaks the loudest and if you’re not sure where to get started, get in touch!

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