So how do you avoid it?
Well you need to be forward thinking. Have a plan before you show up to meet with someone. Think up a couple of topics that you know that you can pull out, dust off and throw out there to help drive the conversation. Perhaps something that interests the other person such as a hobby, their kids, their new job. Have at least two or three pocket topics thought out and available at the ready so that if the conversation lulls at any point, you can jump it right back on track and keep on chugging.
The other thing you can do is to keep tabs on the people you will be meeting with. Now I am not suggesting you become a stalker or anything but there are several ways to keep "plugged in" to what people are up to these days. For example, do they Tweet? Are you friends with them on Facebook? Are you both on LinkedIn? What have they been talking about or posting in the weeks leading up to your meeting? Those posts become great conversations starters. If they are a client or a potential client, a quick Google search about their company or a quick review of their latest press releases can also give you tons of intel about what's going on in "their world." You will be amazed at how a simple mention of something near and dear to their heart can seamlessly drive the conversation.
The point is to have a plan prior to meeting up with someone. Take a few minutes to think up some topics you want to cover together, new things you want to learn about the person and use it all to help guide your conversation. Not only will you feel more at ease because the pressure of uncomfortable silence won't be an issue but the other person will be impressed that you've spent a little time preparing and getting up to date on them before your meeting. You will make them feel special which can in it's own right create incredible Ripples for your blossoming relationship.
Just some food for thought. I've done this for years and that's why my conversations rarely, if ever, have those uncomfortable lulls.
It's that or I just talk a lot (wink)!