Brainstorming with Da Vinci: Chapter 24

Power Pause

Take a Collaborative Pause

Sometimes silence can be powerful. A silent break within a song can build suspense and pump up the energy. In the songwriting process, this is called a power pause.

Many famous songs use a power pause to engage the listener. For example, Bruce Springsteen uses a power pause late in “Rosalita” at the six minute and five second mark. The pause is even more impressive in concert, as Bruce whips up the crowd to a frenzy before taking the pause.

The Foo Fighters use the opposite tactic in “Monkey Wrench,” where they kick off the song with an energetic power pause only ten seconds into the song. Other well-known, rock songs that use a power pause include Roxette “The Look” (power pause at 3:10), Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell (power pause at 2:42), and Bryan Adams and Tina Turner’s “It’s Only Love” (power pause at 1:55).

Thinking through these different songs, it is amazing how this simple use of silence can add so much energy to a song. Silence can similarly add collaborative power to your brainstorming sessions, where people are excited to share ideas. Some participants find it difficult to get their ideas into the mix. By creating an intentional break, you allow everyone the opportunity to contribute their ideas.

Power Pause Method

The power pause method uses an intentional break in the brainstorming to increase collaborative input. The goal of the method is to create a momentary silence for everyone to write down an idea they can share with the team.

The method is simple. Each participant is given an index card at the beginning of the session. At a point early in the brainstorming, you would call for a power pause.

Play It Early

This method is best used early in the session. Usually when a session begins, there is an initial idea rush. After the initial rush, you will want to play this method before too many ideas are shared. Normally, this is about ten to fifteen minutes into the session.

One Idea Each

Participants are instructed to write down at least one idea that hasn’t yet come up in the session. The goal is to have each person generate one idea. Some people may generate multiple ideas. If so, have them share one idea, then come back to them later to hear another.

Build on Each Idea

This is a building exercise. After each person shares their idea, the team should spend time building the idea. Only after fleshing out the idea, move onto the next person.