The Sound of Silence

There is a huge learning curve when it comes to learning how to be an effective speaker. I’m getting more and more practice as I continue to travel to speak at conferences, and I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to get right is the timing of your pauses. One key to being a great speaker is to pause often enough and long enough to allow your message to sink in. Many speakers rush their points and don’t give the audience long enough to process what they just said.

One medium where this truth is very obvious is comedy. It’s called comic timing, when a comedian knows how to use a pause for greater effect beyond the original joke. Some comedians are famous for their skill in wielding a comic pause, one of whom is the classic comedian Jack Benny. In fact, Mr. Benny himself is quoted as having said, “It’s not so much knowing when to speak, when to pause.” Below is a clip of one of his monologues from The Jack Benny Show. Make note of the way he uses pauses to increase his effect:

So regardless of whether you’re a comedian or not, you can still learn from this great comedian about how to intentionally use pauses for effect. It will help you become a stellar communicator!

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