Pause And Power. Part 2
The attention of your audience will act in quite the same way. Recognize this law and prepare for it - by pausing. Let it be repeated: the thought that follows a pause is much more dynamic than if no pause had occurred. What is said to you of a night will not have the same effect on your mind as if it had been uttered in the morning when your attention had been lately refreshed by the pause of sleep. We are told on the first page of the Bible that even the Creative Energy of God rested on the "seventh day." You may be sure, then, that the frail finite mind of your audience will likewise demand rest. Observe nature, study her laws, and obey them in your speaking.
3. Pause Creates Effective Suspense
Suspense is responsible for a great share of our interest in life; it will be the same with your speech. A play or a novel is often robbed of much of its interest if you know the plot beforehand. We like to keep guessing as to the outcome. The ability to create suspense is part of woman's power to hold the other sex. The circus acrobat employs this principle when he fails purposely in several attempts to perform a feat, and then achieves it. Even the deliberate manner in which he arranges the preliminaries increases our expectation - we like to be kept waiting. In the last act of the play, "Polly of the Circus," there is a circus scene in which a little dog turns a backward somersault on the back of a running pony. On nights when he hesitated and had to be coaxed and worked with a long time before he would perform his feat he got a great deal more applause than when he did his trick at once. We not only like to wait but we appreciate what we wait for. If fish bite too readily the sport soon ceases to be a sport.
It is this same principle of suspense that holds you in a Sherlock Holmes story - you wait to see how the mystery is solved, and if it is solved too soon you throw down the tale unfinished. Wilkie Collins' receipt for fiction writing well applies to public speech: "Make 'em laugh; make 'em weep; make 'em wait." Above all else make them wait; if they will not do that you may be sure they will neither laugh nor weep.
Thus pause is a valuable instrument in the hands of a trained speaker to arouse and maintain suspense. We once heard Mr. Bryan say in a speech: "It was my privilege to hear" - and he paused, while the audience wondered for a second whom it was his privilege to hear - "the great evangelist" - and he paused again; we knew a little more about the man he had heard, but still wondered to which evangelist he referred; and then he concluded: "Dwight L. Moody." Mr. Bryan paused slightly again and continued: "I came to regard him" - here he paused again and held the audience in a brief moment of suspense as to how he had regarded Mr. Moody, then continued - "as the greatest preacher of his day." Let the dashes illustrate pauses and we have the following:
"It was my privilege to hear - the great evangelist - Dwight L. Moody. - I came to regard him - as the greatest preacher of his day."
The unskilled speaker would have rattled this off with neither pause nor suspense, and the sentences would have fallen flat upon the audience. It is precisely the application of these small things that makes much of the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful speaker.
4. Pausing After An Important Idea Gives It Time To Penetrate
Any Missouri farmer will tell you that a rain that falls too fast will run off into the creeks and do the crops but little good. A story is told of a country deacon praying for rain in this manner: "Lord, don't send us any chunk floater. Just give us a good old drizzle-drazzle." A speech, like a rain, will not do anybody much good if it comes too fast to soak in. The farmer's wife follows this same principle in doing her washing when she puts the clothes in water - and pauses for several hours that the water may soak in. The physician puts cocaine on your turbinates - and pauses to let it take hold before he removes them. Why do we use this principle everywhere except in the communication of ideas? If you have given the audience a big idea, pause for a second or two and let them turn it over. See what effect it has. After the smoke clears away you may have to fire another 14-inch shell on the same subject before you demolish the citadel of error that you are trying to destroy. Take time. Don't let your speech resemble those tourists who try "to do" New York in a day. They spend fifteen minutes looking at the masterpieces in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, ten minutes in the Museum of Natural History, take a peep into the Aquarium, hurry across the Brooklyn Bridge, rush up to the Zoo, and back by Grant's Tomb - and call that "Seeing New York." If you hasten by your important points without pausing, your audience will have just about as adequate an idea of what you have tried to convey.
Take time, you have just as much of it as our richest multimillionaire. Your audience will wait for you. It is a sign of smallness to hurry. The great redwood trees of California had burst through the soil five hundred years before Socrates drank his cup of hemlock poison, and are only in their prime today. Nature shames us with our petty haste. Silence is one of the most eloquent things in the world. Master it, and use it through pause.
In the following selections dashes have been inserted where pauses may be used effectively. Naturally, you may omit some of these and insert others without going wrong - one speaker would interpret a passage in one way, one in another; it is largely a matter of personal preference. A dozen great actors have played Hamlet well, and yet each has played the part differently. Which comes the nearest to perfection is a question of opinion. You will succeed best by daring to follow your own course - if you are individual enough to blaze an original trail.
A moment's halt - a momentary taste of being from the well amid the waste - and lo! the phantom caravan has reached - the nothing it set out from - Oh make haste!