Intentional Silence as a Moderation Technique

Summary: When conducting user interviews or running usability studies, don't rush to talk as soon as the user stops speaking. Deliberately staying silent for longer than it feels comfortable will often prod users into saying more.

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The Science of Silence: Intentional Silence as a Moderation Technique

Keeping quiet is a powerful moderation technique for user interviews, usability testing, and workshop facilitation. Well-timed, deliberate periods of silence elicit thoughtful, accurate responses and insights, and build trust with participants.

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Kate Kaplan is Insights Architect at Nielsen Norman Group. She specializes in the application of human-centered design and research practices to enterprise UX challenges.

Prior to joining NN/g, Kate was VP of Strategy at the digital marketing agency Centerline Digital, where she led a cross-disciplinary team of UX designers, content strategists and digital marketers in solving complex problems for high-technology B2B organizations, such as IBM, GE and National Instruments.

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