Master Public Speaking—Even if You’re An Introvert

public speaking tips

Introvert and Extrovert Misconceptions

When you think of an amazing public speaker, you probably picture a charismatic, charming, engaging individual who can drive their point across with ease and finesse.

Although you’d identify this person as super extroverted, somewhere along the way, you misclassified the differences between an introvert and an extrovert.

Extroverted people are usually considered loud, outgoing, bubbly, and fun people with amazing personalities. Therefore, introverts must be the bland opposite: quiet, pensive, disengaging, and shy people with a more dull or refined personality.

Although a few people may land on either end of the pendulum, the fact is the majority rest somewhere in the middle. The real factor here is the environment: Introverts prefer a calm atmosphere, as constant social and active stimulation drains them quicker than their counterparts. A social introvert is still an engaging and fun person—just maybe in a more controlled environment and when they’ve had time to “refuel” on their own.

Refueling for introverts is comprised of quality alone time, since they enjoy themselves and the downtime gives them life. An introvert can enjoy time out with friends at a bar, as long as they have their alone time before and after.

The Social Introvert and Public Speaking

In the same breath, introverts can actually make profound and well-executed public speakers. In fact, if you think back to your favorite TedTalk video or celebrity guest speaker at a summit you went to recently, you may be surprised to know how many of them label themselves as an introvert.

An introvert can execute an amazing talk and overcome their natural urges to avoid the spotlight; it all boils down to some quality preparation, practice, and rehearsing in order to deliver their ideas and concepts without succumbing to stage fright.

Don’t leave public speaking just to the extroverts! If you identify as an introvert but have to deliver a speech, take a look at these public speaking tips below to rock it on stage.

Public Speaking Tips for the Average Social Introvert

  • Change your views. Although this may sound completely disengaging, hear me out: If you’re freaking out about being forced on stage to talk for an hour, you need to view public speaking as a job, assignment, or an acting gig. Part of the association with stage fright is the vulnerability and the thought of everyone honing in on your every word. But when you treat a speech like an assignment or like you are rehearsing for a play, that “vulnerable, caught-off-guard” feeling will start to flee. Just as you do your best on a report for work, your speech is something you can pour effort into. It’s also key to remember that your audience is there to gain knowledge and learn. Think of it more as a business meeting and not like a solo performance on Broadway.
  • Choose a topic you know. Although the topic choice may be out of your hands (depending on the circumstances), chances are you’re not being asked to deliver a speech on fossil findings in East Asia if you’re a tenured corporate human resources specialist. Your public speaking topic will probably be within the ballpark of your experience and knowledge. Social introverts usually feel much more comfortable sharing their ideas in a controlled environment where they know what they’re saying is solid and true. If you have the option to choose your topic, this isn’t the time to be adventurous; pick something that you’ve spoken about already on a conversational level and fine-tune it to become a fantastic speech.
  • Prepare. Seldom does a performer go on stage to just wing it and hope for the best, regardless if you define yourself as an extrovert or introvert. Preparation is key for anyone, but it may be a little more important for the introvert who doesn’t love the spotlight. Research your topic, write out your points, rehearse it out loud, revise it, and rehearse it again. Get your partner or friend (or even grab a mirror) to practice healthy eye contact and get some feedback. Rehearse it until your speech is second nature. If you’re prone to fidgeting or having a nervous tick, practice what you’ll do with your hands and how you’ll physically appear to your audience (yes, even practice facial expressions!) Being well rehearsed will take away the feeling of vulnerability when you’re on stage and increase your feeling of control.
  • Limit social stimulation before speaking. Too much social interaction can drain an introvert on a mental and emotional level. If you’re speaking at a conference where interacting with others is inevitable, try to save the socialization for after your speech. Keep your pre-speech time reserved for yourself; walk around and mull over your speech, shake out your nerves, and stay focused on the upcoming task. If you’re stuck without space for a lot of downtime, keep social interactions brief and avoid diving deep in conversation. Speak to a few colleagues or friends you know in order to feel a bit more comfortable. Once the speech is delivered and your headspace is clear (and the endorphins kick in!) you can open up a bit more to your audience on a personal level.
  • Breathe, Recite, Engage. When it is your moment to shine and you’re staring at the crowd, take a couple of seconds to breathe and focus. Think of the 100 times you rehearsed your speech in the bathroom and draw on those memories—recite it like you practiced. Try to find a few familiar faces in the crowd and deliver your speech like you’re conversing one-on-one with them. Stage fright diminishes with confidence backed by solid preparation, so you’ll naturally feel more comfortable as you dive into this topic that you know well. Soon enough the speech will conclude, people will applaud, and you can take a moment to breathe again. Who knows? Maybe through mastering these public speaking tips, you may leave the stage feeling like a social introverted rock star.
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