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Sales Tip - The Sounds of Silence Make Radio Work

With radio you can create any picture in the listener's mind you want, in a myriad of hues, and yet radio has only four colors to work with: voices, music, sound effects, and silence.

Silence is the one that is often overlooked. The judicious use of silence can make or break a radio commercial. How do you learn how to use silence effectively? Listen to stand-up comics. Listen to radio drama. Listen to storytellers. Listen to effective speechmakers. Pick up on how they pause just before delivering important points of the story or a punch line.

Sometimes leaving a few pauses in your commercial for silence can drive home a point much more effectively and emphatically than trying to fill up the full 60 or 30 seconds with copy.

Silence can be used as a dramatic contrast as well. When a commercial is filled with music or sound effects, stopping those background sounds dead and leaving a pause, or having the voice speak over silence can be one of the most dramatic ways to make a point.

Again, it's a reminder that for emphasis, being quieter can sometimes work better than being louder. In a world of chaos, noise, and non-stop sound, the effective use of silence can be your best selling tool.

After a career spent in places filled with sound, Jeffrey Hedquist now creates radio for advertisers, agencies and broadcasters all over the country from a small town in the Midwest, where there is an abundance of silence. You can quietly email him at jeffrey@hedquist.com.