“And then… in the middle of the keynote… I forgot what I was going to say”

by Daniel Batten on February 10, 2010

Pausing is powerful and practical at the same time.

If you had been with me in summer of 2005 – you would have seen something surprising that caused my accidental discovery.

I’d been invited to open the conference as a keynote speaker at this beautiful resort on the edge of Lake Taupo. They even paid for my wife to be there, and we had this secluded chalet where we could walk down this path to the lake. We could see the snow-crusted peak of Ruapehu. I was so excited because it was my first ever keynote speaking engagement – and everything was going very well. And people were getting inspired – you can tell when this happens because the eyes light up. People were nodding their heads in agreement and laughing in all the right places – and then I completely forgot what I was going to say.

I thought “never mind…I’ll remember”.

But I didn’t.

10 seconds later, I thought, “Surely there are some useful ideas in my head that I can verbalise”.

There wasn’t.

After a total of 20 seconds later – I thought “Please – thoughts come!”. And finally they did.

And when I spoke again, it felt like the power of what I said next had been magnified by the length of pause before. People came up to me afterwards and said time after time after time, “wow – how powerful it was in the middle of the talk when you paused for what seemed an eternity … I will carry with meforever what you said next”.

I was thinking “it felt like an eternity to you, just imagine how long it felt to me! – I’d completely forgotten what I was going to say”. And the other funny thing was that even though I wasn’t even doing speaking coaching at that stage, a large number of people contacted me afterwards to say they wanted me to train them. And quite a few said “I want you to train me in how to use pausing effectively in conversation.”

But not only is there a hidden power in pause – you know the other great thing about pausing? It gives you time to work out what you’re going to say next. Which if you are like me and your brain moves just a little bit slower than your mouth – is a good thing. It gives you time to sound more articulate AND it greats the vacuum that magnifies the intensity of what you do articulate.

Pausing is both powerful and practical.

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