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How to Get Comfortable With Uncomfortable Silence

May 22, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 140

It's a scary moment.

You're speaking to a crowd of 5, 30 or 100 people, and, just as things were going well, your brain goes blank. You've lost your point and have forgotten what you wanted to say.

Our natural reaction in this moment is to ramble, ramble, ramble. To fill the space with meaningless words, like flapping our arms frantically in the pool to prevent from drowning.

Little do we realize that it's not a pool we're in it's quick sand, and the more we flap the more we sink in front of our audience.

What we need in these moments is not more words. It's silence.

When we are speaking, often times the ability to stop, be silent, and think about our next point is our saving grace. But we tend to be afraid of silence. We're scared that it will be too long and that our audience become impatient. False.

Our audience is on our side. If they're listening to you, chances are they want the information we're about to present and they're happy to give you the time you need. It's up to us to take the onus and command the moment.

Here's how you get comfortable with uncomfortable silence:

  1. Stop and breathe -- As we talked about, you need silence when the words aren't coming. Take a few seconds to consciously stop and breathe. This practice prevents you from rambling, curbs your anxiety, and puts you back in the present moment where you can find your thoughts.
  2. Start thinking -- Don't just stop for the sake of stopping. Use this time to consciously think about what you want to say and how to say it. Pausing without a purpose can leave you in even more trouble.
  3. Settle into the silence -- Recognize that silence is a good thing; it's there to help you. When you stop, breathe and think, your audience assumes that you're a thoughtful person and what you say next will be meaningful, given that the pause isn't too long. Generally, about three to five seconds is more than enough time.
  4. Reclaim the room with confidence -- The biggest part of whether you audience becomes anxious or relaxed after you pause is you. If you're comfortable and relaxed, they will be, too. The key to this understanding that, as the speaker, the space belongs to you. The audience is willing to let you have the space if you're willing to claim it.

Remember: stop, breathe and think.

-By Ryan Jackson

Source: EzineArticles
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