The Power of Pause

CPC Career Professionals of Canada News

“There comes a pause for human strength
Will not endure to dance without cessation;
And everyone must reach the point at length
Of absolute prostration” Lewis Carroll

To pause – to reflect. How many times have you heard or read about the power of the pause? How often do you make the time to pause in your hectic, daily life?

Taking the time to pause is valuable. Pausing may help us make a tough decision, gather our thoughts before responding to a difficult question, or deciding if now is the time to express how we feel in a controlled manner.

Think of a pause as an extended comma – a time where one, two, three moments (hint: mentally count our three steamboats or tap the side of your leg three times) can make a difference in what you are about to say or do.

Pausing is a valuable tool to help you break down your thoughts so that your listener can receive your thoughts as intended – in measured and deliberate patterns. Simply put, pausing is adding commas as you speak.

Here are a few hints to help you inject the pause into your verbal communication. Use the pause:

  • To emphasize an important point and capture individual or audience attention. E.g. An effective speech opener is to make eye contact with as many people in your audience as possible (along with a smile). This technique will establish rapport and help transport you through your presentation.
  • After phrases that begin with prepositions and adverbs. E.g. “by the time I landed at the airport and reached the office (pause), the meeting had already started or, even if we finally receive the financial resources today (pause) it no longer makes sense to ho ahead with this project.”
  • When listing a number of items. E.g. “I would like to review the research and development process (pause), the new marketing strategy (pause), as well as our distribution system.”
  • Before connector words (such as but, because and however). E.g. “I told them to put their money into bonds (pause) because they wanted a low risk investment.”
  • To help you avoid annoying space fillers of “um”, “ah”, “so”, “you know” and the like. As an experiment, count the number of times you hear a high profile sports and entertainment figure use these fillers to bridge their statements. After a while, you will find your ears listening more for these fillers than the content of what they are trying to express.

Simply put, the pause will help keep a sharp lens on your message.
Your call to action:
The pause is a powerfully simple vehicle that will help you make the most effective use of your “air time”. By consciously inserting pauses, you will bolster your communication skills. You may also notice yourself pausing more frequently to take a breath, reflecting on all that you are doing well, and registering what you need to focus on to enhance your daily and lifelong journey.
“How dull it is to pause, to make an end
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life!”

Alfred Tennyson

Colin Holbrow is the President of The Holbrow Group – an independent executive and life coaching business serving individuals seeking to make positive changes in themselves and their lives. He currently is an advisor for Career Professionals of Canada’s Organizational Learning and Development Initiative. You can connect with Colin at

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