This is Your Brain on Silence

The Power is in the Pause. I say that all the time to my audience but I don't think they believe it. Well, now scientific research proves that silence has benefits to the brain. According to an article in Nautilus magazine, silence has an active and positive effect on the brain. Excessive noise or sound has a deteriorating effect by increasing blood pressure and producing cortisol. Scientists proved that two minute silent pauses were more relaxing than soft, relaxing music.

At the beginning of sound, the auditory cortex lights up. But as sound continues on without change, the neurons stop firing. At the onset of silence, the brain gets activated again. In other words, it reacts to change. Silence is NOT a lack of input. The brain actively recognizes silence.

So what does this mean for speakers and presenters?

Begin your presentation with silence.The typical public speaker starts talking as they approach the platform. It's rare to see a presenter who has enough platform presence to begin with silence and connect with the audience.

Your listeners will tune out if you're a talking head. Too many presenters rattle on without taking a pause and coming to a stop. Continuous speaking (talking in one run-on sentence) will cause the listening center of the brain to deactivate.

Speaking too fast will have the same effect. The audience needs time (silence) for the message to land.

Pauses enable the audience to feel and experience you, rather than hearing data.

What if you offered a moment of silence to reflect on something you said? Imagine the impact of your message when people experienced their own thoughts and feelings. When we learn that the power is in listening, only then can we appreciate the sounds of silence.