To all Keynote Speakers, When You Give a Speech, How Long Can You Hold a Pause?

A powerful question needs to be followed with a pause. A powerful statement is emphasised with a pause.

Just about every key moment in a speech is best followed by a pause. A silent pause.

The more pauses there are, the more impactful the speech.

People feel a need to fill silence. Many aren’t uncomfortable with dead quiet. Silence seems to create tension. It also creates space to consider what was just said. It creates attention as the lulling drone of a speaker can become white noise over time. A pause punctuates the air like white space on a well-designed magazine cover – directing attention to the key message.

A pause also puts the speaker in control because it is the speaker that decides how long the pause will be.

I wonder if this makes the audience sometimes uncomfortable because they prefer to be in control.

Blank air in any group setting seems to be problematic for some.

The online Zoom meeting has thrown up some different scenarios and one of them is the initial few minutes as everyone logs on.

Person A starts the meeting, Person B joins in, Person A welcomes the new arrival and does the same with every subsequent arrival. Like a morning roll call.

General chit chat follows and most attendees engage in some sort of social trivia.

All because there is discomfort in silence.

It’s as though people aren’t comfortable with their own thoughts.