I recall one of the earliest encounters I’ve had with preaching. I was given the chance to speak at a large congregation in Manila—the very church that I grew up in (and in many ways, still call home to this day). After the first of four deliveries that Sunday, the stage manager approached me. He commended my energy and suggested that I pause once in a while. In order to help me in my quest to pause, he handed me a water bottle and told me to take a drink on stage here and there. By the end of the fourth delivery, it’s suffice to say that I still had a full bottle of water in my hand. That episode succinctly reflects what many public speakers fear while being on stage—they fear what is referred to as dead air.
Dead air refers to any gap of silence coming from the speaker’s end. A speaker’s natural tendency is to fear dead air and to avoid it at all costs. We tend to think that since we find ourselves on stage, we better open up our mouths and say something (anything!) to the crowd that has gathered. And so we tend to fill in gaps of silence with fillers (i.e. “um…”, “er…”, “ah…”) or to speed onto the next sentence as quickly as possible. Pausing during a speech or a sermon is seen as something negative and we tend to avoid at all costs.
In this new series, we’ll examine the importance of pausing in a sermon. Contrary to what many inexperienced preachers believe, pausing is actually necessary and quite beneficial. I find that there’s incredible power in a well-placed pause.
In the next article, we’ll look at some unfounded reasons why we tend to avoid pausing during a sermon.
Join the discussion: Why do preachers (especially novice ones) tend to avoid pausing?