Have you ever had a chance to hear yourself speak or read what you say when communicating? Often, when we are given the opportunity, our experience is astounding. Reactions such as “that really isn’t me, is it” occur. One of the most common mistakes we make while speaking is that we fill in our silent time with a word; the word most often used is “um.” You may have heard a speech where the orator would use “um” or their own filler word quite frequently; they seem fragmented as they speak. After a time we become distracted with the use of fillers even if it is subconsciously. Filler words are used when we speak before we think. We are afraid of the silence and fill it in subconsciously.
Are we afraid of silence? Try communicating with someone and sit in silence to see how long either of you feel at ease. What you will find is that even seconds of silence become uncomfortable. Fifteen seconds are an eternity as you sit waiting.
Why is silence so painful? We don’t want those listening to us to think we are unprepared or have nothing to say. We subconsciously think to ourselves, “what are they thinking?”
Do you remember being taught “silence is golden”? Master communicators not only understand the power of silence but also how these fillers kill the message. If used appropriately, calm, stillness, and quiet times in a speech give the listener time to catch up, relate personally, gain understanding, and even build up emotion. Become comfortable with silence and use it to your advantage. You may start with eliminating the use of your filler word. After you are successful with this, try adding time in between thoughts. You will then find yourself able to read the audience to the point of delaying with intension, enabling your message to get across. You will become highly effective in your communication.