Strategies to Beat Out Awkward Silences

Hearing crickets? Use these tips to plan a meeting devoid of uncomfortable silences

At meetings, silence isn’t golden. Planners want to hear guests buzzing with excitement and conversation, not the hum of crickets. 

Networking events in particular are a great way for attendees to meet new people, be introduced to big hitters in different industries and foster new business relationships. But making new connections only happens when attendees communicate well—and that can’t happen if planners fail to set up networking meetings for success.

To keep the chatter alive, incorporate these five planning strategies into your next Network event:

Start the day with an icebreaker.

Knock out any initial awkwardness straight away with an icebreaker activity. Not only will it release any pre-meeting jitters, but it also puts attendees on the same playing field and offers knowledge of other guests to build conversations on. For example, two guests might learn they have a shared interest in a hobby—a tidbit they can then use to generate conversations later in the meeting. 

Equip attendees with effective networking know-how.

The strength of attendees’ conversations might be in their hands, but that doesn’t mean planners can’t help them along. In pre-meeting communications, share effective networking tips, such as asking open-ended questions. Then, come the day of the event, print out conversation starters on business cards and distribute them among attendees.

Add structured networking activities to the agenda.

Awkward silences often happen when a meeting framework doesn’t support authentic networking. So, give guests something to talk about. Put networking activities, such as networking speed dating, on the agenda to lessen the pressure of starting discussions themselves, thereby minimizing the chance of potential awkward moments. 

Consider the setting.

An intimate meeting space can be great for getting to know people one-on-one, but larger venues encourage more interaction and banter among guests. In other words: If guests get stuck in an awkward conversation, a larger or more open gathering space increases the likelihood of other attendees joining in and filling the conversation gap. 

Hire a meeting facilitator.

The ultimate way to escape quiet moments: Hire an emcee to fill the silence. A meeting facilitator’s main goal is to keep an event moving, which means that should any silences blanket the room, the emcee can immediately step in to fill the void.