categories:, communication, preaching
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May 12th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

27 comments (+ Add)

Communication Techniques: The Pause

This week, we’ll talk about several underused communication techniques. We’ll start with:

The Pause

pause.jpgWhen preaching, occasionally you’ll realize you just delivered a very impactful thought. Most communicators continue with their message.

I suggest when you realize a bullet just hit the target… Pause… Be quiet… Be still… Wait… Wait some more… And give the Holy Spirit time to seal the thought in the minds of the listeners.

The more powerful the moment, the longer the pause.

Don’t be afraid of an awkwardly long pause. Let it linger. Allow people to become somewhat restless.

Stop speaking long enough to allow God to finish what you started.


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there are a total of27
  1. May 12, 2008 at 6:02 am

    The “Awkward Pause” is a great technique… I had to learn that it’s probably not awkward to the listeners, until it’s really awkward to me as the communicator.

  2. May 12, 2008 at 6:20 am

    Ooh, I have done this because the Holy Spirit said “stop talking for a moment… wait for it… wait for it…”.

    I didn’t know this was a technique.

  3. May 12, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Whenever I’ve spoken, I’ve found a pause always seems more awkward and agonizing than it really is. I have to remind myself of how thankful I am when a speaker pauses. Gives me a chance to collect what their saying and to get focused on what’s next. Thanks, Craig!

  4. May 12, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Is this different from the “I forgot what I was going to say?” pause? :) Sort of like the old story of the explorer pushing the natives relentlessly until one morning they refused to move. When he asked why the explorer was told “because their spirit needed to catch up with their body.” Good reason for a pause. Good thought Craig.

  5. May 12, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Simple but very effective. Silence can be uncomfortable especially when the speaker just dropped a 100 pound brick in your lap. The pause allows time for us to acknowledge that we need to make a change, make a move, forgive someone, etc. As speakers we rob ourselves of impact when we rush through some of these moments. Yes it is hard to pause because it can seem like an eternity but when we get comfortable with the technique man is good.

  6. May 12, 2008 at 7:56 am

    As communicators of God’s truth we need to realize that more than just words are used. Pausing and letting the people process the last thought is essential. Silence is something that our society pushes back on. We always have noise - the Bible says to be still and know that I am God. Thanks Craig - you got me thinking on this one.

  7. May 12, 2008 at 8:21 am

    It’s good to give that pause, and then repeat your statement. We as pastors sometimes forget that it’s not about how much we say, it’s more about what we say and how we say it!

  8. May 12, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Craig, I’ve got to say you are the master of this technique. I always find myself jumping back in way too soon to avoid any sense of awkward silence. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. May 12, 2008 at 8:49 am


    That was one of the most powerful tools I learned as a communicator. The more comfortable I got in my stage presence the longer I was able to pause. Sometimes, in the silence of a room you can almost hear the wheels turning in heads and the Spirit speaking to hearts.

    Brad Ruggles

  10. May 12, 2008 at 9:23 am

    This is a great one…I have always tried to utilize this one. It give people time to process a very strong point. You can especially do this after asking a question. Sometimes we need to pause and let God speak to the hearts on those points we know He has given us.

    I often see though that today’s speakers are running a 100 yard sprint rather than pacing themselves for the mile.

  11. 13jon
    May 12, 2008 at 10:46 am

    one thing i appreciate about our pastor is that he utilizes the pause before his prayers…i find that it allows me to get more focused on the fact that we are about to have a conversation with the HOLY and LIVING God…i find myself much more in tune and it doesn’t feel like one of those, insert prayer here into the service plan because we have to, type of things.

  12. May 12, 2008 at 11:57 am

    [...] Read the whole post [...]

  13. May 12, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I like this, Craig.

    I have learned to be comfortable in the silence in a different setting - leading a LifeGroup. There was a time when I would move-on too readily if someone in the group did not offer some thoughts in response to a question.

    No more! I don’t linger too long, but I am fine for there to be a pause. It often proves fruitful.

  14. May 12, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    You did this last week and it was hugely effective from my point of view.

    I’m sitting in the Edmond Broadcast suite and every time you did it, even though I knew it was coming, I’d get that gut feeling like oh no, where did the audio go?

    When I was in high school I was in debate and I often found what I didn’t say was more effective than anything I could ever say.

  15. May 12, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    This is such a great point, Craig! Some of us get in the rut of thinking that WPM (words per minute) applies to our speaking as well as it does our typing. I think it’s almost the opposite. The fewer words spoken per minute, the greater chance that understanding, digestion, and impact is deepened.

    Paul Kuzma

  16. 18Jim
    May 12, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Yeah - did this the first time by accident - lost my place - took a couple of awkward moments till I found my place and the next thing you know after the service I have people telling me that God spoke during the pause. Who knew? I do now and do it with purpose.

  17. May 12, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    I appreciate the pause; I take notes during the sermon. Sometimes our pastor will say something soooo profound that I want to get down every single word as it was spoken for future reflection.

  18. May 12, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Great advice. I think im going to like this week! My first opportunity to speak for our junior high group a few months ago I dont even think I had any periods. I was pretty nervous. It went pretty well, but maybe I should of inserted a pause.

  19. May 12, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    good thoughts indeed. i’ve seen this be very effective a number of times. it’s crazy how when you’re actually speaking you feel so compelled to fill the space.

  20. 22Mac
    May 13, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Great conversation! I agree wholeheartedly that well-placed pauses can drive home a point better than just getting louder or rambling on. Not every sentence we speak has the same value, and sometimes a statement needs a lot of elbow room, it’s so big. I’ve also found it useful to sometimes use repetition, especially of a key point or phrase or scripture, hitting it over and over again almost like a mantra or like a drone string.

    And yeah, pauses always seem longer to the speaker than to the listener. Although at the first church I preached regularly at there was one guy who didn’t like pauses. He was the one who edited our audio recordings, and I was a little surprised one time when listening back over the mp3 of a sermon because I sounded like I wasn’t bothering to breathe. It turns out that he had ruthlessly edited out every “blank” he saw in the audio file, to make it more snappy. It made me go and double check with others who had heard me preach live to see if I was really overdoing the pauses, but every one of them assured me that the editing job was just a little weird.

  21. May 17, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    [...] I suggest when you realize a bullet just hit the target… Pause… Be quiet… Be still… Wait… Wait some more… And give the Holy Spirit time to seal the thought in the minds of the listeners.  Read more… [...]

  22. Jun 5, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Wow. If I pause, I’ll go over my time constraints even more often than I already do. In an effort to pause more, it’s as if I’ve created two new goals for myself: 1. Pausing. 2. Learn to use less words…to allow time for pausing.

  23. Mar 6, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Yes - the pause is a very powerful communication technique. This powerful technique is different and unlike the ‘uh’s’, ‘uhms’ which are used when we are processing our thoughts or we are unable to get the correct word. Using this technique skillfully will raise your presentations to new levels. Vivek Hattangadi, Ahmedabad, India

  24. 26Pastor Umuteme
    Apr 23, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I surely use the pause. But this is an involuntary action. The Holy Spirit takes the lead and I just follow. I seldom continue after somebody nod his/her head

  25. Aug 11, 2011 at 10:09 am

    [...] time to think, and the God’s spirit a chance to work in the minds and hearts of people. Craig Groeschel at Life church recently wrote on this topic related to preaching but I think it also applies in a [...]