“Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence.” – Spanish Proverb

I was listening to a news report on the radio yesterday.  The interviewer asked a tough question of a Marine General, which was followed by about 6 seconds of silence.  Although 6 seconds is not a long time, the interviewer found the silence so excruciating that she had to finally say “…OoooKaaaay….”

Silence is a very powerful thing and yet we seem utterly terrified of it, which is why we live in a world with a constant drone of noise.

This finds it’s way into our company pitches, elevator pitches, company tag lines and branding.  In all these things, less is always more.  I’ve coached enough company pitches now to know that 8 minutes is a better time constraint than 12 minutes.  The lesser time forces you to really think about the most important things to say and leave it at that.  Of course this takes time and a lot of practice.  This is the way with excellence.

As for story telling, slow down and relax.  And if you really want to grab the audience’s attention, pause your narrative for about 6 seconds. Do it deliberately and look at them in the eyes.  The tension will grow until it’s brittle and bound to break.  When you break it, make sure it’s profound…

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


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