Henry Thomas’s audition for E.T. is making the rounds in the blogosphere this week. It’s a pretty incredible bit of emoting, improvising, acting. I’d like to highlight one thing that struck me: as the scene begins, the offstage actor sets up the conflict with his first line, and then turns it over to Henry (aka Elliot). And Henry doesn’t say a word. But he does a lot. His silence is very active, even his minimal facial movement is highly active.
In interviewing users, those small moments where we choose to be quiet are powerful. We can maintain an active engagement with the participants even though we aren’t talking. We can move the interview forward without using our mouths.