Now in its seventh year of publication, Speak Previews® has assembled a fine library of articles that address ways of arranging and delivering presentations and speeches with clarity, grace, and effectiveness. That library includes information on all kinds of business communication—including written texts—as well as social or personal types such as offering a toast or accepting an award. From time to time we do revisit some of these articles, especially in response to comments we receive from readers. This Speak Previews® will take another look at two of the many dimensions of presenting well: the pause and performance anxiety.


"Talking Teleconferencing recommends increased use of pauses to keep everyone hearing and understanding," one reader commented. "But I've often experienced the opposite. A pause seems to be an invitation for someone else to jump in. And once that happens, it may be difficult or even impossible to wrestle attention back to what I was saying."

Oh, yes. A teleconference strips away many of the clues we rely on when we communicate—facial expressions, for example, and body language. How can you maintain a balance between giving others on the call sufficient time to absorb your comments but also making sure you get those comments said? Here are some suggestions:

  • Introduce your remarks with a message that includes a "count," such as, "The second version of the slide deck seems more compelling to me for two reasons," to signal that you won't be finished until you’ve given both.
  • Should you be interrupted, try to recapture attention with a redirect—saying, for instance, "That is a possibility we need to address, but first I'd like to return to my second point."
  • Practice word economy by being as clear and succinct as possible.
  • Shorten your pauses just a little more.

What you don't want to do is to talk faster and faster like a train speeding down a track. Should you pick up too much speed, the other participants may not understand you at all. At the least, they will be numb to any nuance you may be trying to express.


To the suggestions given in Nine Tips for Managing Fear of Public Speaking, we added one more in Transforming Performance Anxiety. Do take a look, and make its recommended action, simple as it is, your own tenth tip. Even if you anticipate or experience relatively little fear or anxiety pre-performance, reappraising it as excitement may take you through a presentation with composure and energy. Talk to yourself; send yourself a message. You'll receive it loud and clear. That's the power of the mind.


While every Speak Previews® contains advice, tips, and principles that increase your effectiveness as a presenter and/or writer, a few are organized in lists. If you're looking for ways to handle audience hostility during a Q&A session, for example, access those tips here. Frustrated by less-than-productive decision meetings? Check out these six. And whether it's for the first time or a revisit, know the Big Ten tips for speaker success. Take them to heart—and mind.