One of the core speaking principles is the power of silence. Put into practice, this delivery tool can have a profound impact on an audience.
This concept is not always easy to grasp. It’s counter-intuitive to think that a speaker is most effective when not speaking. But it’s true.
The impact of silence is not always obvious ‘in the moment.’ Sometimes you never realize the effect it has had. You just know that an insightful comment or humorous line evoked a strong response.
At the time, you probably didn’t think “That speaker just paused long enough for me to get the full impact of her point” or “Thank goodness he shut up long enough to let me laugh!” You simply reacted, and experienced the impact.
This idea hit home for me this week while I watched a video of arguably the greatest moment in American sports history – the 1980 semi-final Olympic hockey match between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R.
If you remember that event, you probably just felt an emotional response at the mere mention of it. The impact of the U.S.A. victory is difficult to convey 36 years later, but it was profound.
What struck me about that contest was the masterful work done by lead announcer Al Michaels as he called the closing moments, and the aftermath of the stunning victory. Many people forget that this game was played on a tape-delay basis in the United States. (If you’re younger than 30, there was a time when most sporting events were NOT carried live – ESPN and 24-hour access to these competitions didn’t exist. No, really! I’m serious!)
After Mr. Michaels’ famous words during the closing seconds (“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!!!! YES!!!!) he did something astounding….
He SHUT UP!
He was wise enough to understand the historic significance of the moment, the reaction of the teams, and most importantly, the crowd response.
Watch this clip of those closing moments (It’s OK, do it now. I’ll sit here and eat my pretzels until you return…..)
Doesn’t it still give you chills and thrills, nearly four decades later?
Do you have a deeper appreciation of Al Michaels use of ‘the pause?’ From the 1:02 to 1:59 point in this video, he allowed you, sitting at home, to ‘feel’ the moment. He intuitively knew that saying anything would detract from it.
How do I know this? Because, at the 1:59 mark, he said, “No words necessary, just pictures.” He then waits another 12 seconds to allow you to take in just a little more.
This experience was made more emotionally stirring because of what a wise broadcaster knew what not to do. It’s a skill that todays broadcasters, salespeople and, yes, speakers, would do well to learn.
As you practice and prepare your next talk, reflect on the impact of Al Michaels’ use of the greatest delivery tool you have at your disposal – silence. Allow your audience to feel your most powerful points, and most emotional moments of your presentation by closing your mouth.
Do this, and when other people ask your audience if you have a powerful message, they will enthusiastically say….
And that’s no miracle, just great speaking.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
The book ‘Go Ahead and Laugh: A Serious Guide to Speaking With Humor’
What is the right type of humor to include in your speeches?
How do you include funny material without taking away from your message?
What if you’re not a naturally funny person, how do you make people laugh in a speech?
Fortunately, a book has been written that answers these questions, and many others. In ‘Go Ahead and Laugh, A Serious Guide to Speaking with Humor,’ 11 professional speakers share some of their best humorous material. These speeches are dissected by presentation expert Rich Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins breaks down each speech and helps you understand how to uncover the humor that exists in your stories. After reading this one-of-a-kind book, you will know…
– The difference between humor and jokes [there is a HUGE difference]
– How to use your stories to make audiences laugh
– Techniques to deliver your funniest material with maximum effect
– Using humorous self-deprecation to increase your likability
…and much more!
Once you’ve learned how to create more laughter within your speeches, you’ll find that, not only will your speeches improve, you will become a much more in-demand presenter. As you get more comfortable incorporating more humor into your speeches… your impact and connection with audiences will increase significantly.
To order, click here.