I consider myself to be an introverted person.
That may seem odd considering my YouTube channel and monthly Castanet column is dedicated to encouraging people to speak confidently in front of large groups of people. But the reality is, I’m mentally drained after delivering a presentation.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love public speaking (I do), but this month I wanted to share a few tips for my fellow introverts who may struggle with finding the energy to speak confidently in public.
Introverts need to practice
To be clear, everyone needs to practice public speaking, but introverts really, really need to practice.
The more you practice, the more familiar you will be with your content. The more familiar you are with your content, the less likely you are to freeze in front of your audience or forget what you’re supposed to be talking about. If you’re introverted, you’re probably already worrying about a lot of things when you’re on stage; therefore, your content shouldn’t be one more thing to add to the list.
The first few times I spoke on stage, the entire experience was a blur and it was difficult to recall details of what happened during the presentation. I was so focused on what I needed to say, I wasn’t able to take in the moment and observe the audience’s interactions. What has happened over time is that the more the content has become second-nature, the easier it has been to get comfortable and recognize what is happening in the room while speaking.
The best way to become aware on stage and reduce anxiety around speaking is to practice.
Introverts need to intentionally bring energy
A high energy presentation is something that comes naturally for extroverts, but introverted people need to be intentional about deliberately elevating their energy.
If you are soft-spoken, you need to dial up the volume. If you don’t usually have a smile on your face, you need to find that smile for the stage. If you usually have your hands in your pockets, you need to pull them out and use them to incorporate body language in your speech.
Audience attention spans are short these days, so if you want your audience to stay engaged and focused on the message you are delivering, you need to capture their attention. The best way to do this is by elevating your energy and confidence.
Introverts need to ditch their notes
If an introverted person is asked to give a presentation, he/she is most likely to feel comfortable behind a lectern with their full speech written out word-for-word on a piece of paper. But, as mentioned in the previous tip, the problem with hiding behind a podium is that it limits your body language.
The problem with reading notes verbatim is that it limits your vocal variety. Without vocal variety or body language, it’s going to be very difficult to keep the attention of your audience.
One fear some people have about ditching their notes is that they may forget something they were hoping to talk about. While that’s a valid concern, it’s important to remember that your audience never knew what you were planning to talk about in the first place, so you can deliver a presentation and forget to mention something, but the audience won’t be upset because they had no expectations of the specific things you’d be saying in your speech.
Introverts shouldn’t let a label define them
Being introverted doesn’t mean you can’t be a great public speaker. In fact, some of the world’s best presenters would consider themselves to be introverts.
The challenge is that some aspects of public speaking (body language, vocal tone, etc) may be more of a challenge for us introverts than it is for our extroverted friends. But with practice and repetition we can overcome these challenges and deliver attention-grabbing presentations while staying true to our authentic personalities.
And, if you (like me) become drained after delivering these presentations, then simply plan for a strategically-scheduled post-speech nap to recharge your batteries.
I hope these tips for introverts are helpful.
If you’re thinking about joining Toastmasters to improve your public speaking skills, our Kelowna AM Toastmasters Club is always looking for new members.
If you’re interested in learning more about Impactful Communication, subscribe to my YouTube channel.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.