The power of pausing

  • 05/10/2015
Dr Heather Henrickson
Dr Heather Henrickson

Pausing is a natural part of speech – and now, science has figured out how pauses can make or break your conversation.

"Super awkward pauses are the worst…because people struggle to understand what it is that you're saying, and they might actually think that you've stopped thinking, in which case they might start speaking," says Massey University bio-molecular senior lecturer Dr Heather Henrickson.

"If it's longer than four seconds, not only will they not understand and not be able to process the words that you've used but they'll also forget what you've said later."

But short pauses can actually enhance the conversation, says Dr Henrickson.

"Not only do we need to breathe, but we're also looking for words sometimes, and we're also pausing for emphasis.

“Also, pauses are really important because they let the other person have the opportunity to speak, if you're actually in a conversation."

Watch the video to see the full interview with Dr Heather Henrickson.