Acting “As If” – The Introvert’s Key to Success in Public Speaking

Explanation of  Quiz answer #2 “How Well Do You Know Introverts” Quiz.

#2. Introverts are typically not good at public speaking. FALSE

Being introverted does not mean you can’t also be a phenomenal speaker. Introverts often use their natural strength of preparation to sound smooth and clear in their message. And just like an actor that goes into character they often perform brilliantly in their roles. In fact, a large majority of actors and comedians are actually introverted in temperament. They rehearse and then step into character.

Making a presentation to two or twenty people is the way to educate, inform and influence others. Introverts know this is an important vehicle for imparting their message and gaining visibility in their organization. They agree with  Warren Buffet, who said that “public speaking can be our greatest asset or our worst liability.”

Often they will act “as if” they are confident, suave and sure of their message. Paul, an IT consultant I interviewed for The Introverted Leader shared that he imagined himself as James Bond when making presentations.  He even wore the right sunglasses and clothes to get himself into the role.

What are other techniques introverts use to excel at successful public speaking? They use visualization where they imagine a successful speech before it occurs. Others push themselves to speak up in meetings, to their boss and even on the grocery store line. They also pump themselves up by replacing negative self-talk with positive statements.

And after the presentation? A welcome retreat to solitude usually does the trick.

3 thoughts on “Acting “As If” – The Introvert’s Key to Success in Public Speaking

  1. Gary Bandy

    Jennifer,
    I’m strongly introverted and yet I would say I find it easier to give a presentation to a group of 50–100 people than to talk about myself in a small group (or to write about myself on a blog). In recent years I’ve developed a sideline of teaching postgraduate courses. Of course I prepare thoroughly (the perfectionist in me wants to get the presentation slides, etc just right) spending perhaps a day to prepare a one-hour talk. Before the talk I tell myself that as far as my subject is concerned, I have something to say that the audience want to listen to.

    At first I found it difficult to look up when I was speaking but with practice I have learned maintain eye contact with the students and get some discussions going. I think of myself as a performer for the duration of the class, but because my teaching tends to be in intense blocks of 3 to 5 days, at the end of a block I am completely shattered.

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  2. Jennifer Kahnweiler

    Thanks for the great comments, Ryan and Gary. Gary, I think many people underestimate the toll it can take on introverts to expend such focused energy preparing and presenting. I am glad you recognize the steps you take to be on your game and also have shared with us some terrific tips. Ryan, I agree that practicing in small groups helps a great deal. It also gives us a chance to see how the words we use and stories we tell “land.”

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