White Spaces Matter

Well-designed magazine layouts use white space to draw the eye to the main message. Great web pages do the same. Look at Google’s home page. Uncluttered, clean, and easily digestible. Plenty of white space.

The same with well-crafted speeches. By creating pauses of silence, a speaker can draw the audience to focus on the critical message of the speech.

The pause is probably the most effective speaking technique. It takes courage to pause and hold.

I remember seeing a humorous speech delivered which involved the speaker stumbling and falling(deliberately). Instead of immediately jumping up, he stayed horizontal, face down. It seemed like 30 seconds or longer. After it seemed forever, he said the next line in his speech. So impactful.

White space is more than a pause, though. It is to withhold information strategically.

I always look for white space opportunities in my speeches.

While I’m standing there(or laying face down) in my white space I’ve noticed that my gestures can be awkward. I work hard to make my movement work within the context of the speech.

I could:

  • be looking into each audience members’ eyes, in turn, searching
  • be looking upward for inspiration, perhaps
  • be opening or closing my eyes, slowly bowing my head

Like any speech, I practice the gestures appropriate for the instance and make sure that they emphasise the white space I have created.

White spaces do matter.

Try creating at least one in the next speech you make.