Warning: Know When to Shut Up

Effective public speaking is not only about speaking. It’s also about knowing when to stop speaking. Some times you need to shut up.

I don’t say that to be offensive, even though some might be offended by those words. If you are offended, perhaps that message is most intended for you.

As public speakers we must accept the reality that no one wants to hear every word that we want to say.

Read that last sentence again. There’s a difference between what you want to say and what your audience wants or needs to hear.

The question is, “How big is that difference and how aware are you of the difference?”

No one cares about what you think you need to say. The audience only cares about what they believe might be important to them. When a speaker says, I need to tell you this – the audience might wonder, “What has that got to do with us and why should we care what you think you need to say?”

When you find that you are saying things that you feel you need to say – it’s time to shut up.

When your audience doesn’t appear to be listening – shut up and wait for them to pay attention.

When you get lost and need to gather your thoughts – shut up, smile and gather your thoughts before proceeding.

When there is a disturbance in the room – shut up, wait for the commotion to die, then continue.

If you want to be a more effective speaker – know when to shut up. Your audience will love you and you’ll be invited to speak again.

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