The “One Thing” to be a Powerful Presenter: Pause

What is the one thing that you can do to make your presentation more powerful and effective?

Pause – more often and more dramatically.
The most difficult thing to do is often the one thing that separates the masters from the masses. That’s true of many pursuits. For example, the hardest thing in personal growth is to know oneself. Similarly the most difficult presentation skill is pausing – to stop talking and say nothing.
Just the thought of pausing is painful for those who love to speak. And the idea of science is threatening to those who think they should be speaking.

Presentation skills and personal growth are related. Both require incredible self-discipline and self-confidence. To know oneself you need to ask some difficult questions and tolerate the discomfort of uncertainty. To master the pause you must become comfortable with both silence and uncertainty.

"The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause." Mark Twain

Why is the mastery of silence such a powerful presentation tool?
Because most people cannot tolerate the vacuum of silence. When you are negotiating, the one who speaks less usually wins. The one who talks more tends to give away more information and more concessions. The lesson: once you've stated your position - shut up and listen.
Effective public speaking is less about making noise than it is about carefully crafted pauses positioned between thoughtful words.

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” Plato

If you want your audience to listen better, pause in the right places. If you want your audience to hear your words better, pause more often. For example, pause just before you state something important. That builds anticipation. Pause right after you stated something important. That allows them to digest the point. And the two pauses punch up the words between.

"Most speakers are afraid of silence. Yet, it is so powerful."
Peter Urs Bender

When you are the speaker you should know that your listeners can either listen or think - but not do both well at the same time. When you want them to think - shut up. To convey more confidence pause more. Why? Because anyone who talks nonstop sounds nervous. It is as if they don't want anyone else to challenge them.

To demonstrate real control and self-confidence pause before you start your presentation. After you have been introduced, move to center stage, plant your feet then smile while looking at the audience for at least five seconds while saying nothing. It is only five seconds and it might feel like eons for you. But it will have a magical effect on the audience. They will stop fidgeting, focus on you and be waiting for the first word out of your mouth. While you might feel uncomfortable during those five seconds, the audience will be marveling at your self-confidence and composure.
"The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes--ah, that is where the art resides!"
Arthur Schnabel
Austrian composer & pianist (1882 - 1951)

Talk less. Pause dramatically and you will deliver more powerful presentations!

© George Torok delivers powerful presentations. He is the Speech Coach for Executives. He can help you convey your message with more power. When you do that, you get more of what you want from others. Register for your free Presentation tips at Arrange for Torok to speak to your team – visit To arrange individual coaching call 905-335-1997

The One Thing to Be a Power Presenter

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Graduate With Skills, Not Just a Degree

The Wall Street Journal

By Heather R. Huhman

Not long ago, earning a college degree could almost guarantee you would land a great job much faster than those who were not college-educated. Today, however, it’s important to have relevant skills, not just a degree. In fact, a degree has started to become the minimum requirement to even be considered for many openings—meaning most of the people you will be competing with have a degree, too.

What are these sought-after skills? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2010 survey:

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Analytical Skills
  3. Teamwork Skills
  4. Technical Skills
  5. Strong Work Ethic
“These are the skills that employers believe are important to on-the-job success,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director

Read the rest of this article at Wall Street Journal.
I notice reports like this regularily. It's no secret but it still makes the news for the Wall Street Journal - communications skills are critical to success.

Below is the comment that I added to this article...

As a communication skills expert who regularly coaches executives on communication skills in general and presentation skills in particular, I agree on the importance of communication skills for career success.

Here are tips on how to develop three types of communication skills.

Develop Your Writing
Blogging is an excellent way to get published as a writer. Students can also write for their school publications, association newsletter and community papers. The easiest way to get published is by writing letters to the editor. Another simple way is to submit an op ed piece.

Develop Your Speaking
Volunteer in leadership roles in your student organizations. Volunteer with charities. Volunteer to train others. Volunteer to speak at high schools, community events and fund raisers.

Develop Your Questioning and Listening
Volunteer to be a reporter for the school paper. Volunteer with the local community radio or TV station. Survey community or business leaders on an issue and write a report.

List all of those results on your resume. Academics do that, so why not students?

George Torok

Speech Coach for Executives

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Speaker Boot Camp in the UK

Are you in the UK?

Are you a professional or advanced speaker that wants to fine tune your presentations skills even more?

This Speaker Boot Camp is not for novice speakers.

In this program a maximun of six speakers will receive direct and intense coaching from Warren Evans CSP.

You will receive help with structure, content and delivery from a no-nonsence master of presenting.

Click here to learn more about this unique opportunity.

This Speaker Boot Camp will run October 22-24.

Discover more information here.

PS: I attended this program in Toronto two years ago. I was already a very good speaker and wondered if I would get a good return on my money. I expected more than a few silly tricks. I still am happy with the results that I got from from this Speaker Boot Camp. I was able to put the lessons into action at my next presentation.

George Torok

Speech Coach for Executives

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You can follow presentation tips on Facebook. Visit and "like" the new "Presentation Skills Club" fan page.

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How Long is Forever?

I think that your definition of "forever" depends on how you are feeling at the moment. That makes it a highly unreliable word to use. It doesn’t mean the same to everybody and it doesn’t mean the same to an individual at different times or circumstances.

How many seconds, minutes, or years is forever?

How does forever change from when you are patient or impatient?

How does forever change from when you are sad or happy?

How does forever change from when you are poor or wealthy?

There is no real measure of forever. Yet many people seem to use the term in their everyday conversations.

Here are some examples:

I called and his phone rang forever.

We ordered the pizza and it took forever to arrive.

It took forever to receive payment.

The wait at the doctor’s office took forever.

We’ve known each other forever.

I will be forever grateful.

Friends forever.

I will love you forever.

Each of those statements is a lie.

Those phrases are based on the feelings of the moment. None are accurate or measurable. In fact, I think that the use of the word “forever” is intended to be deceptive.

The word “forever” is an absolute and absolutes at best are based on your feeling at that moment. Is “forever” measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries or millennia?

I suggest that you remove the word “forever” from your vocabulary.

If you do that, you will be a more effective communicator because your words will be more trustworthy.

George Torok

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10 Tips to Master Questions with Authority During Your Presentation

During your presentation your audience will often want to ask you questions. You must expect and encourage questions. This can be the tipping point in your presentation that moves them to think or do what you are proposing.

If this is so important to your success then you need to be well prepared for the questions and know how to handle the questions. It’s not only about knowing the answers. It’s more important how you handle the questions with authority.

Use these ten tips to handle the questions more effectively during your next presentation.

1. State the Rules
Tell your audience when you will take questions and how individuals will be recognized to speak. Point out the microphones they should use. State the rules that must be followed to ask questions. This might seem heavy handed but your audience wants to know the rules and it’s up to you to make and state them.

2. Prepare
List and practice answering all possible questions. Especially prepare yourself for the worst questions. Imagine how confident you will look when someone asks you that killer question - the question that is intended to skewer you to the wall. Instead you smile and calmly respond with a positive answer. Be prepared. Craft and rehearse the answers to these difficult questions before the presentation.

3. Maintain Control
Stay in control of the questioning periods. Formally recognize the questioner before they speak, and limit the number of questions. Allow only one person to speak at a time.

4. Include the Group
When listening to the question look at the questioner while moving away from that person so as to physically include the whole group in that discussion. Paraphrase the question for the group. State your answer to the group. Beware of answering only to the questioner.

5. Ask Your Question First
Kick start the question period with, "A question I am often asked is, …". Then answer your 'question'. This helps to prime the pump and encourages others to ask questions. Have a few of these rhetorical questions ready – just in case.

6. Admit That You Don’t Know
If you don't know the answer say, "I don't know the answer to that question but give me your card and I will get back to you." Beware! You can only do this once or twice. Any more and you will look unprepared.

7. Your Audience Might Know
If you can't answer a question but know that someone in the audience might know, ask, "I know there are experts in the audience, how would they answer this question?" Only do this if you know there are experts in your audience. There are often people in your audience who are eager to speak and demonstrate their knowledge. Let them.

8. Acknowledge the Dissenter
When you encounter the person who strongly disagrees with you and refuses to shut up, respond, "Thank you for your opinion, I know there are different schools of thought on this issue - I am telling you what has worked for me." Don’t argue. Validate the dissenter and move on.

9. Avoid Sincerity Traps
Avoid repeating, "Thank you that's a good question." after every question - the questions might not be good, and the audience will see through your insincerity.

10. Don’t End on a Question
Don’t end your presentation with the questions. You might have watched a speaker make this mistake. The questions petered off. The last question is often a weak or negative question and then the presenter finishes with “No more questions? I guess that’s all.”

Yuck, what a disgusting close. Instead always finish with a closing statement that will resonate with the audience and reinforce your message. End your presentation strong.
Bonus tip: Plant the question you most want to hear. Before the program begins, ask someone sitting near the back to 'pose' the question on your signal.

You will master the presentation questions if you are prepared, know your facts and use these techniques. Content and style will determine the success of your presentation.

© George Torok is the Speech Coach for Executives. He coaches executives and trains business teams to deliver million dollar presentations. For more free presentation tips visit To arrange a speech or training program visit For media interviews call 905-335-1997


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