Public speaking is tough, but for introverts, it’s even tougher. Jeanne Salvatore, President of JMS Consulting, discusses her thoughts and provides tips on public speaking to help introverts turn around their presentations.
When most people think of someone who is introverted, they tend to believe that the person is shy or even socially awkward. On the other hand, people tend to think of an extrovert as someone who is outgoing or the life of the party. So, when it comes to public speaking, extroverts have the advantage and introverts are doomed to always sit quietly in the audience, right? Well, not so fast. Those are outward expressions of how introverts and extroverts generally act and not their innate ability to be a great speaker. Public speaking is simply a skill. And, like all skills, it can be mastered through hard work and perseverance.
So, if you are an introvert, take heart. You may be shy and even dread social settings. But, you innately have everything you need to be a great public speaker. Introverts tend to be inner-directed, thoughtful and good listeners. They also tend to prepare for everything they do. And, generally speaking, the one opinion they care about the most is their own. Ultimately, preparation is the key to giving a successful speech. Preparing means knowing your audience, knowing your subject matter and taking the time to practice your presentation. These are traits that introverts have in spades. So, if you are an introvert, you can be a great public speaker.
Being extroverted does not mean you are automatically going to be a better public speaker than an introvert. However, since extroverts are outgoing, many people will assume that they are comfortable speaking in public and will naturally give them more public speaking opportunities. The more speaking engagements they have, the more likely they will get more opportunities to practice and perfect this skill. And, practice makes perfect. So, if you are introvert, look for low-risk speaking opportunities. Start small. For instance, If you are in a book club with a close group of friends, offer to give a brief summary of the book. If you participate in a weekly staff meeting, think ahead about what you would like to say and say it. Or, take a class. But, just start.
Here are some tips to help you prepare to speak in public:
1. Know your subject matter.
By being the expert in what you are talking about, you have earned the right to speak. If you feel nervous, remember you are the expert.
2. Know your audience.
Who is going to be in the room? What do they know about the topic? Tailor your words and messages to the group.
3. Prepare what you will say and how you will say it.
Write out everything you want to say. And, then edit the language so it sounds great when spoken out loud. Edit out any word that does not come off the tongue easily.
4. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Rehearse your presentation. Practice on your friends, kids, significant other or even your pet.
5. Be your best authentic self.
Imagine how you want to look and sound in front of the group. Visualize your perfect presentation. But, always be yourself. Trust me, being real and authentic is an appealing trait.