“The pauses are one of my favorite things,” Gerlach said. “The silence in the interview. That is when you can sense someone’s optimism, someone’s discomfort, someone fumbling for the right words. There’s an intimacy that you get that’s just different. It’s not edited for time. If there’s that choice moment, I want you to hear it. And I want you to hear the police siren in the background, and the papers rustling.”
The first silences that come to mind are Mike Daisey’s during the episode of This American Life where Ira Glass confronts him for lying about his trip to China on a previous episode of the show.
Daisey’s silences were so long and so awkward that they made me think, “Oh no, did my battery die? Did Downcast crash?” every time. I remember the silences and the atmosphere of embarrassment and shame they conveyed, even though I don’t remember anything that was said.
Sometimes, silence can be much more memorable than words.