Words are important. So, too, is the precious time between words and thoughts.

Great speakers share a common denominator. Watch the greats, Martin Luther King, Kennedy (either one), Hitler (yes- Hitler. He may have been an evil man. He may have been a bad man, but his ability to persuade through the spoken word was absolute) they all share a common theme – a vital theme in the delivery of their message.

When I speak, I rarely have a written speech. I wait to respond to the actions of my audience. Often, my delivery is completely different to disseminate the same information to two diverse groups.

If one is discussing commercial fishing limitations to regulators, then to commercial fishermen, the framing of the information must be different for the speaker to be heard. The regulators need to hear and understand the implications on the family of the fisherman. The fisherman needs to understand that his son will not be able to live a life on the water unless the fishery is maintained. This disparity is not disingenuous.

Public speaking, for many, is intimidating. I have given speeches that were not well received. In such times, I have seen many good speakers, seeing the lack of responsiveness, begin to panic. A speaker out of control is fast, they skip over points, they spatter thoughts forth, then run off of the stage. This is utter failure in the conveyance of information.

The greats spend much time quiet. They wait for their audience to absorb the statement, these pauses often are commensurate with the statement’s import. They step back from the microphone and wait – they wait for response, they wait for applause, they wait to be heard.

Your audience needs this time to reflect, to consider. An uncomfortably long pause will bring a mumbling audience to the edge of their seats. Stepping from the microphone will silence the room.

Practice conveying well-drafted points, then retiring from speech. The time that you are silent is as important as the time spent speaking.

Scott Cahill

Author: Scott Cahill

Political blogger, construction expert, writer, public speaker, expert witness, sailor, and pilot

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