Conversation is an art form, we all want people to focus on our work. But it can be hard to retain people’s attention when you can’t think of anything to contribute. When words fail you completely, try these seven verbal pauses as you search for ways keep the conversation about you:
Like a fine wine, this tried-and true-verbal pause gets better with time. Let this bilabial fricative buzz on as long as it takes for you to think of something to say. Either way, you have everyone’s attention for the entire length of your “umm.” For variety, mix it up with “like”, or the hybridized “um, like, um” as you try to figure out how this conversation relates to the time you tried a spin class.
No one actually knows. You don’t even know, but you capitalize on their polite nods anyway. Just keep making broad statements and surely, someone will know.
If they have any decorum, they’ll be forced to say “bless you,” “gesundheit,” “are you okay?,” etc. Cash in on their manners and weakness by grabbing the conversation reins and steer it right into You-ville station. Even if you don’t have to sneeze, slowly rear back while you’re trying to sneeze for some extra attention.
This verbal pause is most commonly used after fumbling the first line of “Defying Gravity” at your eighth grade musical audition. Use it to loudly and abruptly steer the conversation into singing about anything and by the time you actually get to your point, everyone will forget what they were talking about.
Command the room and bring dignitaries to their knees with this old timey catchphrase turned verbal pause. People will be WAY more intrigued by this than whatever someone else just said.
What started out as other people’s thoughts on jazz music has slowly evolved into brassy trumpet sounds from the side of your mouth. You pretty much forgot why you were doing this soon as you started, but at least people are listening.
Just like conversations, verbal pauses don’t have to make actual sense to hold anyone’s attention. Like a senator filibustering for 28 hours straight, half the battle is just keeping those lips flapping. Remember, as long as noise keeps coming out of your mouth, you’ll be able to be the center of any conversation.