Silence in a pitch
After many pitching competition and countless hours of pitch coaching, I can say that this is one of the most effective tools you can use.
Every now and then you should hit pause in your pitch.
Think about it: What if I would be talking to you for 2 minutes, at 150 words per minute. Would you think that is pleasant to listen to? Would you think you’re able to process everything what I say to you?
The most common mistake pitchers and public speakers make is that they keep on going. Whether they are too nervous or too excited, the audience usually collapses and stops listening.
A few advantages of using silence in your pitch
- It gives your audience time to process your words
- It makes your audience feel relaxed
- It makes you look confident
- It increases the impact of your words
By now you should have an idea about why you need to use silence. But when do you use it?
- Before you say your first sentence (2 or 3 seconds)
When you walk on stage, it comes across strong when you wait 2 or 3 seconds before you start talking. It shows that you are confident and relaxed.
At the same time, it gives your audience the time to study you before you start talking. This way they can solely focus on your words when you actually start talking.
- When you switch to a new topic (1 or 2 seconds)
When you are talking and you switch to a new topic, it’s good to give your audience a small break. By being silent for 1 or 2 seconds the audience understands that you are switching to a new topic.
Is your startup ready to pitch?
Replace your *uhh’s* with 2 seconds of silence.
- Before an important point (2 or 3 seconds)
Before you talk about an important point, it’s good to build up to the moment. This works especially well when you are presenting your solution to a problem.
You have introduced yourself and explained the problem you or your company is solving. Now it’s time to present your solution.
This is a major topic in your pitch and should deserve all the attention of your audience. Right before you reveal your (brilliant) solution, build up to the moment with a pause of 2 or 3 seconds.
- After an important point (2 or 3 seconds)
Right after you explained your solution, it’s time to let it sink with the audience. Give them 2 or 3 seconds to think about what you said. This shows confidence and makes your solution seem even stronger.
- When you ask a question (1 or 2 seconds)
If you decide to ask a question in the opening of your pitch, you should give your audience a break of 1 or 2 seconds. Depending on the complexity of your question, you can increase this to 3 or 4 seconds.
Make sure to not pause too long, as this suggests that you are waiting for an actual answer. During a pitch this is not what you want, as you lose control over the situation.
Click here to read more about questions in the opening of your pitch
How long should you be silent in a pitch?
How long you should be silent in a pitch is different per situation. As you can see above, it is different per subject. Other factors such as the intelligence of your audience also plays a role.
If you are pitching to an audience which includes children or elderly you should increase your pauses slightly.
Being silent in a pitch might feel scary
I understand it. There are lots of people staring at you waiting for you to say something. It might feel awkward and scary to keep them waiting for a few seconds. You should realize that a silence feels longer in your head, then it feels in theirs.
You have to remember that if a pause seems just a little bit too long in your own head, the audience will think it’s exactly right.
When you are excited about what you are going to tell, or you are a bit nervous, many people forget to use silence. Even though they might know about the power of silence, they simply forget to do it during their pitch.
Mark the silence moments in your text and include them when you practice your pitch. This is the only way you can be sure that you know when to pause during your actual pitch.
Want to learn more about pitching? Download the complete pitch guide.
TRY IT YOURSELF
Try the power of silence the next time you are telling a story to your friends.
It could be about anything, just feel the difference between rambling your story and using powerful pauses.
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