Public Speaking Isn’t Just For Extroverts
It’s horrible being labeled by others and even worse when you’ve self-limited by your own hand. Learn to tap into your natural strengths as either introvert, extrovert or ambivert and feel at your best, no matter the situation.
Introvert, Extrovert & Ambivert Mini Quiz
Do you prefer open plan offices or your own space? Prefer 1 to 1’s or parties? Do you enjoy team brainstorming to solve problems or prefer to nut it out on your own and in your time? Do you gain energy being around people and high stimulation or do you feel nourished by quiet reflective, low stimulation time? Or do you enjoy both?
And just out of interest, what did you assume about the lion-cat image for this story? Is the timid pussy overwhelmed by the powerful, outgoing lion, or do pussies harbour a lion inside and should not be underestimated? Or something else?
Introverts thrive with lots of solitary time to nourish and nurture their ideas and creativity. They prefer low stimulation environments – private, quiet, calm, natural. They often find large groups loud and tiring. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people often fear social interaction. Introverts prefer their own space rather than being fearful of sharing it. They tend to be more methodical, detailed and slower to answer questions… because they are thinking about it.
Extroverts thrive with social interaction and may feel bored when alone for too long. They are often seen as talkative, assertive and enthusiastic. They seek high stimulation environments – noise, interaction, rapid change and may think, talk and jump on board new ideas quickly.
I’ll just say a little something here about people who feel confused by having both introvert and extrovert qualities. Instead of suspecting you lack integrity or worry about “who am I really?” I suggest you see the advantages.
For instance, being able to experience introversion and extroversion yourself, gives you greater insight and sensitivity in working with people. And a terrific understanding of how to prepare information in a range of formats for people of all persuasions to understand. Do however, respect your needs for down-time and up-time, favouring neither and enjoying both.
“Quiet”, by Susan Cain
According to my recent reading and subsequent book review of “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Won’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, and you can watch the TED Talk, there isn’t a spectrum, rather a cross over of individual personality traits often dictated by your situation or environment.
For instance, you can be a “shy or anxious extrovert” or an “outgoing or socially confident introvert”. I was surprised to discover I am an introvert who acts as an extrovert when necessary. So while I love delivering workshops (professional environment), I look forward to snuggling by myself with a book in a quiet nook (personal environment).
If Only We Could Bottle Authenticity
One thing I have learned is the more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more authentic you are. And authenticity brings peace and confidence within and inspires trust and rapport with others.
Obviously, authenticity is also very useful for speaking with ease in front of groups regardless of whether you consider yourself more of an introvert or extrovert. Damn those labels. Be “true to your weird self.”
Introverts – Tap Into Your Quiet Strengths
As a public speaking coach for the last 12 years, I have observed that it is the quiet, understated humble types who consistently emerge as the charismatic speakers. You can hear a pin drop when they speak. Introverts surprise themselves at the power and impact of their carefully chosen words, imbued with meaning and feeling. And when others give them a chance, our quieter brethren offer us all a gentle breathing space to reflect and be inspired. If you believe you are more introverted:
- Use your powerful listening skills to signal you hear and understand your group. The best speakers are the best listeners. Everyone deeply wants to feel heard, use listening to your advantage.
- Introverts are often deep thinkers, creative, persistent, methodical – think artists, scientists, IT innovators. If your personal style to is to be more thoughtful and detailed and different to mainstream, use it for the occasions when it will be appreciated. Learn to not overthink the “the 30 second self intro.”
- Introverts often confess to me they are scared of Q & A and cannot think and speak well on their feet. Never fear, there are many ways of turning this situation to your advantage, but first you must see it as an opportunity and remain true to yourself.
Extroverts – Tap Into Your Outgoing Energy
Working with extroverts is often a quick and exciting process as they grab whatever I offer with both hands and apply it before I finish speaking! I find extroverts often need to learn restraint and boundaries; knowing when to step in and when to step away and understand that giving too much can be overwhelming and people just switch off. If you believe you are more extroverted:
- Slow down (at least between sentences and ideas) so that people have time to digest and reflect your ideas. With your bountiful outgoing energy, many gems will be lost in the whitewash unless you prioritise and be very clear about any steps you recommend.
- Positive, upbeat energy is great for unifying and lifting the group but has short term impact. It’s best used for entrances and signifying direction and tempo changes. If you are giving a longer presentation, watch you don’t wear yourself and your listeners out by an unsustainable, fast paced monologue. Monologues create disconnection (because you are not “listening” to them) and a power imbalance. Disempowered people will not listen to you.
- Become a better listener to non verbal communication and a keen observer of body language. Both will keep you on track to ensure your group are still willing to go along for the ride with you. Remember that everyone is not the same as you and people process information at faster and slower rates. Prepare your presentation to accommodate all types of people.
How To Cater Equally To Introverts & Extroverts
If you manage staff, speak often to groups or have several children, here’s several tips to ensure you cater to the needs of introverts and extroverts – without using labels on them of course!
- In an office or communal space, create a mix of open plan and private nooks. Let people gravitate to where they are most comfortable and will do their best work.
- When presenting to groups, especially workshops, ensure you create a mix of individual reflective exercises, small group and large group activities with emphasis on everyone having a chance to be heard – not just the ones with the loudest voices.
- Ask people in your care how they best learn and format your information and training accordingly.
Riches For All
Introverts, extroverts and everyone in between, enrich society, shaping the yin / yang balance of humanity. Without the people who come up with great ideas, and the others who confidently sell them, there would be no great ideas at all. Just wistful dreams and a whole lot of bland sameness.