When I was in third grade, I competed in a writing contest. The student with the best handwriting would have the privilege of writing the class letter to the President of the United States. Seems a bit silly today in this world of technology, but this was a few decades back. I wrote like a portrait artist paints and took second place. More importantly, I was told,
“Had you remembered to indent your paragraphs, you would have easily been the “winner”.
Perhaps that’s why white space is so important to me now.
What is white space? It’s the background or unprinted part of the page. You know, the margins at the top and sides, the space after a sentence and the line space between paragraphs – (oh, and don’t forget the indentations!).
But it’s not the white space on the page that interests me most, but the “Verbal White Space” that most speakers ignore, under-value and under-utilize.
Verbal white space is silence, the non-verbal aspect of communication. Like the white space of a printed page, it contrasts the words and makes them stand out. Verbal white space is more than simply pausing and being silent. Used effectively, it supports your audience’s listening attention, their comprehension as well as adds emphasis to your message. In addition, verbal white space allows you as the speaker, to observe the impact of your words on your listeners, gauge your effectiveness as a communicator and gently massage your delivery.
More is not better when it comes to words – both spoken and written. Get comfortable with silence, use it regularly and strategically and you will improve both your speaking influence and your audience’s understanding.
For speech and presentation coaching that capitalizes on verbal white space visit me online or call (609) 799-1400.