by Tracy Johnson
Broadcasters seem to have an innate fear of silence. We dread “dead air” and rush to fill each millisecond with something – anything. But doing so eliminates one of the most powerful tools of effective communication: silence
The Power of the Pause is evident in great performances. A brief moment of silence creates anticipation, adding to the suspense, and signally something important is about to happen.
Entertainers Penn and Teller refer to it as The Silence Gap. They understand how to use silence as a communication weapon that applies to the stage, screen, interviews, and radio shows.
Former Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully is the greatest baseball broadcaster of all time. Vin earned that recognition by adding to the listener/viewer experience by pouring his personality into the event he was describing.
Scully described Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, the blast that made him baseball’s home run king. Here’s how it sounded:
In an interview with another broadcast legend, Ross Porter, Scully talked about using silence to capture the magnitude of that moment.
Note: the whole interview is great. Listen if you have time. But if not, advance to the 17:22 mark to hear Scully talk about using silence to create impact in one of the most memorable moments in broadcast history:
Whether on a team show or a solo show, learn to embrace the Power of the Pause. This should be a deliberate, conscious focal point.
Sure, it’ll take some coordination and trust between cast members. Use hand signals to let cohosts know the pause is for effect and to not rush in. Some solo personalities even edit pauses into recorded segments or phone calls to add suspense.
The point is, silence is a tremendous tool to place greater emphasis on what is about to be said. Experiment with it to enhance storytelling skills until it becomes natural. Then keep working on it to master this technique.
Thanks to Benztown President/CEO Dave “Chachi” Denes for sending me the interview with Scully.
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