How to Use Silence in Your Presentation to Look Confident

There are times when silence is more powerful than words. Public speakers often place a great deal of emphasis on the actual words they are speaking. While this is certainly important, silence can and should also be used to raise interest and create a more powerful impact. Most speakers fear silence because they consider it disturbing and nerve-wracking. However, the occasional silence during a presentation is actually quite powerful. It’s time to stop looking at silence as the enemy and start embracing it as a tool to make you a more effective and confident speaker. 


It requires a tremendous amount of confidence to purposely pause during a presentation. When you are standing in the front of the room, the audience is expecting you to speak. When you break free and provide them with the unexpected by inserting a pause, they will admire your composure and confidence. Here are a few ways silence can be used to boost your confidence as a speaker. 

Capture Attention

Think about a teacher you may have had that seemed to ramble on and on. Chances are, you began daydreaming and quickly lost interest as their voice continued to echo throughout the room. Now, think about what happened when that teacher would stop and pause. More than likely, the silence captured your attention. A pause is an effective way to grab attention. After you are introduced, simply take the stage and then pause for a moment. This is a great way to command the attention of your audience and they will immediately perceive you as a confident speaker. 

Dramatic Effect

Sometimes a powerful statement can become even more impactful by adding a pause afterward. This gives the audience time to fully absorb the impact of what was said. This kind of pause takes the audience on a journey with you and helps them become more engaged in what you are saying. The pause gives the audience time to think about the statement and internalize what you have just said. 

Use it to Think Before You Speak

A pause can be a great way to take a mental break. Rather than seeming as though you are simply reading from a script, a pause gives you time to think about what you really want to say. All too often speakers fill this silence with filler words like “um” or “er” and this can actually make you appear less credible. On the other hand, pauses allow you to regain your thoughts and the silence will make you sound like a stronger and more confident speaker. 


Build Anticipation

In just about every awards show or competition when the announcer says “And the winner is…”, there is almost always a dramatic pause before the name is announced. That’s because this pause builds anticipation. It leaves the audience sitting on the edge of their seats in excitement to find out what will happen next. The same is true in a presentation. A dramatic pause allows anticipation to build and makes the statement even more memorable. 

Remain in Control of Your Presentation

Audience can spot a nervous speaker a mile away. Anxious talkers speak a mile a minute and proceed without ever stopping. Expert speakers, on the other hand, take their time and carefully control the pace of their presentation. They do so by pausing at the right times. These occasional moments of silence demonstrate confidence and help your audience to perceive you as a confident and seasoned speaker.