The art of great public speaking is knowing when not too. Your impact as an inspiring speaker is directly related to your ability to master silence over the seduction of your own words.
Rightly timed, silence can amplify the power of the words you speak. It can surround your message with a sense meaning, authority and gravity.
Not only does silence allows the audience (the listener) time to catch up, digest and embrace your words, it allows you to reach higher levels of passion and persuasion.
Here is a simple way you can add the power of silence into your speeches, presentations and pitches.
Just Start with Silence…
Most business meetings, conferences and presentations have decaying momentum. One item rolls into the next. Progressively, one presentation sounds like the last. Until after an hour or two it all starts to meld together. People become distracted, eyes look at phones and minds wander.
At a conference, the danger when faced with this reality is to conform and fit into the event’s slowing momentum.
It goes something like this. The speaker is introduced. Mechanically, someone reads their bio. Then they dive straight in. Like a start line.
The audience begins to ask themselves, “How many presentations do we have go before lunch?”
Why? Because often we are frighten of silences. Dead air is something uncomfortable. Silences are seen as a “problem”. After all, you have been cued to speak. So you must start to speak.
But rather than launching in, as soon as your name is called.
STOP! Breathe, pause and look around the room. These seconds might feel like an age. But take them.
Try 15 seconds of silence at the beginning of your talk. See what happens?
The audience stops too. They puts down their phones. They look up. They perk up, “What is she going to say?” A sense of anticipation builds.
You will even see them lean forward. A great sign. It’s a tell-tell signal that they are listening. After waiting, now begin.
It sounds so simple. But it is crucial. Those seconds allow you to get a feel for the room, master the room and allows your audience to reset and focus on what you have to say.
Fifteen seconds does not sound long. But it is. Once you have conquered this silence stretch it out further. Can you go to 30 seconds?
Some of history’s greatest speakers gained a sense of awe by beginning with silence that lasted up to minute. Yes, a full minute.
But try 15 seconds of silence first and watch your audience come alive!
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About the Author
Simon Trevarthen is Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Elevate Your Greatness (EYG). EYG helps individuals, teams and organizations unpack the secrets of success by becoming even better versions of themselves through dynamic keynotes, seminars and workshops on innovation, inspiration and presentation excellence.
To learn more about Elevate Your Greatness see www.elevateyourgreatness.com
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