Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Enjoy the Silence
by Gary Fearon, Creative Director for Southern Writers Magazine
A public speaker whom I had the pleasure of seeing last week—a competent and well-spoken fellow—began his presentation by declaring that he's probably going to talk too fast, and talk too much. He went on to explain that he cannot bear to hear any silence during his presentations. The quiet when he's speaking makes him uneasy and he feels he must fill the gap with words.
Standing at the podium, a roomful of silent people is indeed very unnatural, especially with all eyes on you. Hoping as we are to regale the crowd, any silence feels like a vacuum. But if we flip that scenario and instead are seated in the audience, we can be quite appreciative of those pauses, which afford us the opportunity to absorb the information we're taking in. (Especially if we're taking notes.)
A good rule of thumb might be this: Any time you make a statement that you consider deep, important, or potentially confusing, make a point to take a long breath while it sinks in. Join your audience in enjoying the silence. As long as you don't look like you're fumbling for the next thing to say, the audience will comfortably follow along at your pace.
I would add that a fervent urge to talk about your pet subject is an additional reason we may talk too fast, or too much. Passion sometimes overthrows pacing. (But that's a topic for you romance authors.)
Which reminds me, Happy Valentine's Week to one and all! Even if you don't have a date for Thursday, remember that Southern Writers loves ya.