Silence can be heard. It was heard at the Word of Mouth Marketing Summit 2010 when Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, known better together as NPR's The Kitchen Sisters, gave a presentation on the Art of Storytelling.
About halfway through their talk, Davia & Nikki stopped talking. People in the audience also stopped. They stopped fiddling with their iPhones and laptops but they didn't stop listening to the silence. Instead, people started listening with their eyes as they focused on Davia & Nikki on stage.
After a good thirty-seconds of silence and with every eye in the audience focused towards the stage, Davia said, "Silence brings people together." (It sure did.)
Sam Harrison, writing in his book, ideaSELLING, sells us on using silence when presenting and pitching to clients. After sharing a pitch to a client, Sam says we should, "Listen up. Be quiet and wait for the decision maker to speak. If there's a pause, resist the urge to fill the void. Stay silent and listen. You're about to hear something important. Maybe you'll get the go-ahead. Or you'll hear the objection or obstacle you must address to gain approvals."
After years of blowing his trumpet and filling space with sounds, Miles Davis learned to play silent notes. He learned silence could be just as loud as sounds from his horn. "Don't play what's there, play what's not there," is the music maxim Miles followed and it's a communication maxim you can follow.