Public Speaking Tips for Doctors – The Power of the Pause

Public speaking can be daunting for those who find it difficult to speak confidently when presenting or speaking to the public, including doctors. When you speak, whether you are telling stories, speaking at a meeting or doing a presentation, the drama and power of your speech is contained in the silences or pauses that you create. This is an art you can learn with practice, and will surely take your public speaking skills to the next level.

Nervousness makes people speak faster, with a higher pitch to their voice and without pausing. More relaxed people speak more slowly, pause regularly and have a deeper, more authoritative tone of voice.

There is nothing as attention-grabbing than a pause. People naturally fall into the void you have created and immediately give you back their full attention. Each time you pause and smile, your audience re-centres its attention on you and what you are trying to impart onto them.

1 – The sense pause is most often used when there is only one point being made.

A simple pause at the end of the point will help the audience catch up with you and make sense of the information. If you move on without allowing the audience to catch up, they will simply drop your last point in an effort to catch up with you.

2 – The dramatic pause is used to make an important point stick.

It can be used before an important point is made, or afterwards to allow the audience to catch up with you. For example:

“There are three ways in which services can be made more efficient in this department”

DRAMATIC PAUSE (2 seconds)

The first approach is to reduce waste. This can be done by ensuring proper stock control of equipment, implementing a protocol to avoid overordering drugs, and storing material by reverse chronological order of use-by date.”

DRAMATIC PAUSE (2 seconds)

The second approach is …”

3 – The sentence completion pause offers a powerful way to engage your audience.

With a completion pause, you essentially pause just before the end of the sentence that you know your audience can finish for you. So for example:

“An easy way to improve our finances, would be to minimise waste. Because if the amount of waste is decreased, then our spending is lower and our profit is there …


… higher”

Obviously this can only be done with sentences that either the audience knows i.e. “When the tough gets tough, the tough get … going”, or where the final part of the sentence can be completed logically.