P is for Pregnant Pause

Pregnant Paurses

 The important thing is not the notes. It’s the intervals between the notes.– violin virtuoso Isaac Stern

The power of the pregnant pause cannot be underestimated!

While the pause is a part of vocal variety, it, like storytelling, is such a critical part of delivery it warrants it’s own page.  Sprinkling 3-5 second pause through-out your talk will amplify it’s effectiveness 10 -old.

One Gallop Poll reveals that vocalized pauses (“ah” “er” “um”)  annoyed 69% percent of people surveyed. Replace those annoying fillers with the beautiful pregnant pause!

There are SO many powerful uses of the pregnant pause. Insert a pause immediately after you’ve made a point, shared a story, cracked a joke, referring to your notes, or forgotten what you were going to say next!

One of the exercises I have students do during my “Speak Like A King” workshop is to have students write out a short paragraph about an unforgettable experience from their life.  I then ask them to pair off and take turns reading their paragraph to their partner.  I then ask them to insert three five-second pauses in their paragraph and reread it to their partner.  The results are nothing short of astonishing.  Their memory takes on a new life – a life of depth, meaning, impact.


Here are three additional ways to effectively utilize the pause:

  1. When relying heavily on notes, pause as you look down at your notes, and resume talking once you look back up at the audience.  That way you not only employ the powerful pause, but you also you keep connected with your audience.
  2. When asked a question, PAUSE before answering. Most people reply immediately with an annoying filler word!
  3. If you say something that has the audience laughing, PAUSE until the laughter subsides, so they don’t miss what you are going to say next and not have their laughter cut short. Everyone loves to laugh. Give them pause to do so.




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