By: Daniel C. Finley

The Power of the Pause

We have all heard the saying, “Silence is Golden” but as advisors do we routinely utilize silence as part of our presentations?

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I stop talking every time I ask a question and patiently wait and then listen to their answer.” While this may be true, it’s not exactly what I am referring to. What I mean is to pause or slow down with your dialogue and truly think about what you what to convey, what you want the listener to hear rather than just rambling on with hopes that what you are saying is understood.  It is what I refer to as “The Power of the Pause”.

Let’s take a look at what a few seconds of strategic silence can do for you.

  • Pausing for Direction: During one of my Group Coaching Role Play sessions I noticed that some of the advisors seemed to be nervously searching for something to say, trying to fill every moment with a question, statement, fact or story.  However, what they didn’t realize was that they were just filling up the conversation with idle chit-chat.  By doing so they were not getting the prospect (we were role playing) to come to a place of understanding regarding the products and services that were being recommended.

So, I created an exercise, The Five Seconds of Silence Exercise, in which the advisor had to pause for five seconds each time prior to speaking. Each round of the game lasted for five minutes. If the advisor broke the five seconds of silence rule, they were immediately eliminated from the game. The rounds continued until there was only one winner. The purpose of the exercise was to give the advisor the necessary time to strategically think about the direction they wanted the conversation to go in and what type of dialogue would work best. After a few rounds, each advisor realized that pausing, even for five seconds, could be just enough time to make a course correction.

  • Pausing for Pace: A conversation is similar to a dance, as there is always one person who leads and one who follows. If you feel that you are losing the listener because you are speaking too quickly, then it’s time to pause. Simply slow down and try phrasing a question like this, “So,” (wait two seconds-one thousand one, one thousand two) and then continue on with the question, “Why do you think that is?” Typically what happens next is that the listener will match your pace and slow down as they answer.
  • Pausing for Impact: One of the best times to pause is when you are about to close the sale. The two or three seconds of silence after starting a question (such as in the preceding example) creates curiosity about what you are going to say next. “Well?” (again wait two seconds-one thousand one, one thousand two) and slowly continue with, “What do you think is the best course of action?” Then sit tight and wait for them to respond.

Perfecting the Pause

There is no hard-and-fast rule on perfecting the pause but if you find yourself disconnected from your client/prospect during a presentation you will be well advised to let a few seconds of appropriate silence enter into the conversation.

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