I cannot tell you exactly what the topic was, but I can tell you that this speaker on this day said “um,” “uh,” and “so” a lot!
This stood out to me not as a critique, but as a reminder. I thought about my time as a member of Toastmasters International, an organization for public speakers who want to improve their skills. One of the many forms of training we received was how to minimize and ultimately eliminate filler words such as “um,” “ah,” “so,” and “uh.” We tend to use them to fill in the space between thoughts as we communicate verbally to others.
I was taught that the alternative to filler words is silence. Yep! Silence.
It feels risky, right? But, y’all…they were right! Silence is to be trusted! I started to notice that each time another speaker or I myself spoke, and the urge to say “um” or “uh” was bypassed and silence had its way, the speech came across much more polished. I never imagined silence to be what would add the clarity, space, and time from which both listeners and speakers benefit.
Now, mind you, this whole “silence actually is golden” revolution I was experiencing was not at all a new concept. Around 430 B.C. God himself demonstrated this point.
Turns out, there were about 400 years of silence between the prophecies of Malachi in the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament. No new prophets were raised and God revealed nothing new to His people. Yes, God was silent.
The result: major political, cultural, and religious changes that prepared the world for the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. As Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the appropriate time had come, God sent his Son…,” which is exactly what we needed.
In the midst of a conversation or a formal speech; in conflict with another person; in a cluttered room; as you plan out your day, or even as you attempt process or respond to all that life has thrown your way—remember: you do not have to fill it all in!
Silence sets the stage for polished and appropriate outcomes more consistently as we reflect on, digest, and follow through with the instructions He has already provided.
Toastmasters encourages it. Our hearts crave it. God demonstrated it! You can indeed trust it!