Episode 44 : Say More with Nothing

by Ian

in Editing, Interview, Podcast, Storytelling

Pause to create the space and rhythm of a conversation

One of the things that always comes up when you decide to Create Your Life Story is how to deal with the breaks in conversation or the pauses. Sometimes pauses get in the way but often they can scream loud. Do you wait or interrupt, edit them out or leave them in? Are they personal traits or annoyances?

Pause your story

Pause and see what happens         …via notashamed on Flickr

There are many types of pauses in a conversation. Some are silence and some use verbal utterances

  • Pause  as we collect our thoughts
  • Pauses to consider something emotional
  • Verbal pauses to join to the next piece of content and prevent interruption i.e. um, ah, uh & you know
  • Repeat the last word to consider what to say i.e. and, and, and.
  • Joining words i.e. and, but & so…

Pauses in all their forms are a way of developing cadence and rhythm. To create a melody of the stories being told. It doesn’t matter if you’re telling a story or if you’re listening to someone while recording them, the rhythm of the conversation needs to be respected and allowed to flow. If it’s interrupted the dynamics of your personality changes and the chance for the obvious natural flow of stories will devolve.

The additional pauses that are included consciously or unconsciously during a conversation then create interest by allowing the space to expect something or a chance to reflect on what has just been said.

Power Pause

When asking a question, the use of the power pause after a question creates a space for the other person to fill with information. By remaining silent, they have to fill the space which gives you additional opportunities to listen and gain extra information about them.

If telling a story the fore power pause can create anticipation of what is about to be said and the post power pause can give an opportunity for reflection on the part of the listener.

Pregnant Pause

Life on pause

Space lets things happen

During a conversation once a point is made, the following pause can make them uncomfortable. It’s too easy to let them off the hook by breaking the silence. Resist this temptation (yes, I know it’s tempting) and wait for an answer. Pauses cause the other person to feel awkward and want to fill the space with additional information. Let the silence and discomfort do their work.
However when they have finished speaking or you’ve made a statement or question that has no possibility of response you’ll be simply creating dead air and awkward silence.

Opportunity Pause

Pauses allows speech to make sense. Obviously, speech would be pure gibberish without some pauses. When they pause you have an opportunity to add some content. This is where it’s imperative to be actively listening so your response is genuine and relevant to what they’ve been saying, to ask them to go deeper into the topic. It’s also a time for adding a non speech utterances like oh or aha, to say, “Yes I’m listening please tell me more”. The opportunity pauses can be the briefest of moments to connect and show you’re still engaged or they can be the space that is the linking connection to the next topic.


During the editing process we need to consider the purpose of pauses and where they should remain and be removed. Some significant pauses can create great effect while too many of others can be distracting.

Some people can maintain an engaging conversation while in physical connection so that you don’t notice their verbal pauses but when listening to only the audio these verbal pauses can be annoying.

In both cases it’s important to be sensitive to how much removal of pauses is required to make the audio an enjoyable listening experience or when to leave some in, so as to allow the character of the person to continue to shine through.

  • Look at the issues you expect to have to deal with regarding pauses
  • Can you discipline yourself or the other person to avoid too many pauses?
  • Maintain the balance between too much and adequate pause removal
  • Use pauses to create opportunities to express yourself better
  • Use pauses to allow the other person to express themselves

Where have you seen pause used to allow things to happen in a specific way? Let us know in the comments below.

Interesting Links from this Post

There are more ideas in the e-Book Recording Life Stories to help give you an overview of your project. Just sign up for it in the side bar form.

To automatically receive this free podcast, click on the iPhone image to the right or search in iTunes for “Create Your Life Story” or Subscribe in iTunes by Clicking here. If you use another Podcast software Get the feed here.

Support Create Your Life Story by using one of these services from the top navigation bar, commenting on this episode with social network sites below or writing a review on iTunes.

Music is from

Tony Guerrero

“Dizzy Does It”
from “Blue Room”
(Charleston Square Recordings)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

Jeremy Cohen
“Sweet Georgia Brown” (mp3)
from “Jeremy Cohen: Violin Jazz”
(Violinjazz Recordings)

Buy at Napster
Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: