A quick guide on awkward silences and how to avoid them
Very few people really enjoy total silence. It's particularly awkward when you're meeting people for the first time. Whether that's during a job interview, a meeting with the lawyers, a pitch to a potential customer in a foreign language... or even in a room full of people who work together every day. Whether it's a stunned silence or you're stuck in the very smallest of small talk, quiet moments can be unpleasant as much as they are often welcome. So what can you do about it?
1 - Break the ice. It only takes one, brave person to step across the line so make sure this you! Go beyond your comfort zone and emerge from your natural tendency to be politely British. We're not about to list 20 suggestions on what types of icebreaker exercises to use with what types of audiences. But it's worth having a few up your sleeve. One we particularly love is to put people in pairs, giving each pair 3 random words written on a flash card and 120 secondson the clock. In their two minutes, they need to invent a new product that's made up of those three words. Then, each pair has 30 seconds to pitch their business idea to everyone in the room. Just don't forget to bring a stopwatch.
2 - Pick the perfect setting. It's really important that, before you make any event booking, you have confidence that your venue will be quiet. If you're running a training session or even a workshop or creative brainstorm, it's likely you'll want the participants to have some individual thinking or working time. They can only do this in peace and quiet to keep the concentration high. The last thing you want is walls so thin that your participants can hear the meeting in the room next door or, a space next to the bar, restaurant, or lift lobby. Be sure to do your research and, if you're not sure, just ask the venue host by submitting an enquiry. And, to help you along a bit, we've put together a list of quiet venues in London for you to choose from.