“There are times when silence has the loudest voice.” – Leroy Brownlow
Most presenters neglect how essential silence is during presentations. Instead, they focus on improving their vocal projection, pitch, and language choice.
However, speech trainer, Gary Genard, suggests that there are times when silence doesn’t necessarily indicate awkwardness.
When you’re overwhelmed by noise and can’t express yourself clearly, pause for a while. Embrace silence and let it guide you throughout your discussion.
Let’s look at some of the benefits you’ll get when you use silence to your advantage:
The sound of silence plays a key role in facilitating audience’s learning.
If you’re explaining a complicated situation or critical information, a moment of silence allows your audience to process and absorb your message.
Using silence as a strategic pause creates a smooth transition from one point to another. It also prevents your listeners from tuning out and getting lost in your pitch.
Pausing makes you more like a listener than a speaker. And this isn’t a bad thing, because you need to listen before you speak. It’s crucial, especially when responding to audience feedback and their questions.
Though silence is often interpreted as a nervous habit, it also indicates your willingness to listen. It gives your listeners a chance to speak up, demonstrating respect for them and what they’re trying to convey.
Pausing at the right time builds emphasis and adds positive suspense that builds up to the meat of your speech.
As Mark Twain said, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Silence is an effective tool for emphasizing dramatic statements, important details, and points that need to be clarified. Well-placed pauses for emphasis also take participant attention and interest further.
Effective pauses demonstrate your control and confidence about your message.
Your courage to break the flow of your discussion shows an authoritative presence, supports your nonverbal communication, and enhances your relationship with your listeners.
When done properly, pauses don’t connote unease or ineptitude, but grace and power.
Using silence as a presentation tool makes you a more effective speaker.
When used properly, it can make it easier for your audience to catch up with what you’re saying. Pauses make you sound like you are willing to listen to your audience, creating a positive relationship with them. Well-timed silences also give you an air of confidence, especially when used to add drama to a significant statement.
Forget about the awkward silence. Instead, embrace its power in assisting your audience, building relationships, building up your speech, and demonstrating your confidence.
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“Dig into Your Presentation Audience’s Key Learning Styles.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 8, 2015. Accessed July 3, 2015.
Genard, Gary. “Public Speaking Tips: Silence Is One of Your Most Powerful Tools.” TheGenardMethod. August 25, 2013. Accessed July 3, 2015.
Featured Image: “Silence” by Patrik Theander on flickr.com