How to improve speaking if I don't know what to say in most situations when I take part in discussions? I don't feel nervous while speaking just nothing comes to my mind.
Hi Victoria, here are some solutions for you to use in different situations:
Top 10 Ways on How to Fill Awkward Silences
Imagine you’re in a meeting and your mind goes blank, what do you do? You have to fill the awkward silence somehow…!
Fear not, there is always a way out, here are a few good ideas to get you through those moments, and give you a few extra minutes to get yourself back on track and remember what you were going to say:
1. You could ask someone in the audience an open-ended question (a question that WILL NOT have a YES/NO answer), related to what you’re discussing. Ask them for their opinion on something to give you some time. You can gather your thoughts while they talk.
2. If you are hosting the discussion, you could simply ask the audience, ‘Does anyone have any questions or comments at this stage?’, this will remind you of what you last said as any questions will more than likely be related to what you were just talking about!
If no one has any questions or comments, then target individuals and ask them about their opinion on what you just said.
3. If you have just asked the audience a question, but no one has responded or said anything, what could you do? Maybe try rephrasing and asking the same question in a different way to help their thought process or understanding.
Another thing you could do is, approach it differently and ask specific people questions, that way the person you target will be expected to say something in return! Try to ask different people all the time, otherwise they may feel like you are picking on them!
4. Remember that sometimes, silence is not a bad thing. Give the audience some time to think about what you have just said. Maybe they’re planning their response? Count 5 beats in your head, if the silence is any longer than that, then try approaching it differently.
5. If you’re in the middle of talking and suddenly your mind goes blank, then you could simply reiterate what you said, to get yourself back on track. Use phrases like:
– As I said before’
– ‘Like I mentioned previously’
– ‘Just to remind you…’
– ‘I’d like to reiterate the fact that…’
– ‘As I was saying before…’
6. Deflect questions back to the group. Just because you are presenting, doesn’t mean you have to answer all the questions. If someone asks you a question and your mind goes blank, or you don’t know the answer, you could simply say, ‘That’s a very good question. What do you guys think?’
7. Maybe there is an awkward silence because you simply don’t want to say that YOU DON’T KNOW?? Here is another useful list that may help you.
8. If there is an awkward silence because you don’t know what to say next, and no one has any comments on what you just said, then the best thing to do could simply be to move on to the next point. You could do this by using phrases such as:
– ‘Okay, if no one has anything to say on that matter then I’d like to move on to….’
– ‘Well, it looks as if we’ve come to the end of that conversation thread, so …..’ and take the conversation in a new direction.
– ‘Well, moving on swiftly…’ and start talking about the next topic.
9. Mention a random joke, funny comment, or an interesting fact related to the subject you are discussing. This is often a good gap filler and brings everyone’s attention back to you. Although you may need to have some ideas prepared in advance, if you are unable to think off examples on the spot!
10. Sometimes the best thing to do is THINK LESS, TALK MORE. If you’re just trying to think of the perfect answer that you could use, then there ends up being a very long awkward silence. You could instead think out loud, and let people follow your train of thoughts. This way, you are breaking the silence and still sharing. Even if you don’t know what to say, you should use phrases like:
– ‘Hmm, I’m not quite sure what to say about that……’
– ‘Let me have a think about that and I’ll get back to you.’
– ‘Well, if …… then maybe …..’
– ‘I’m not too sure at this stage, I’ll have a think and let you know in a moment.’
– Maybe you could fill the first few moments by repeating the question slowly, so as if to help you think of the answer.
– Ask the speaker to rephrase the question for you, this would help you to understand what they’re asking better, and also give you some more time to think about your answer!