Silence, in almost any kind of meeting, is almost unbearable. Do you know what I mean? The gap in conversation invites tension, creates a shared awkwardness… Sometimes it can feel almost overwhelming.
I used to notice it a lot when I was standing in front of a seminar room. Often just before I started or whenever I would ask a question. Everyone waiting for someone to speak, but perhaps not wanting that person to be them.
And I know that people worry about it for their viva. What happens if you have to pause? What happens if you have to ask for a moment? What happens if someone doesn’t speak for a short time? – something likely to happen given the time it takes for signals to move around the world between different places!
The answer to all of these is that nothing bad happens.
Silence is a by-product of a necessary pause in things. A wait before we begin, a pause while you think, a moment while the signal comes back. Silence isn’t bad, it just feels bad.
The only way past it, I think, is to practise: have a mock viva, pause before you answer and get comfortable with the silence. Use whatever meeting software might be used for your remote viva and take time to get used to those little delays.
Sit with the silence, and see it for what it is. Not terrible, not bad, not somehow good: just one small part of the viva process.