Introverts: Turn Quiet To Your Advantage

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
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
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.

Ambiverts
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.

(c) 2016 Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article or review is the author’s opinion only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Don’t Give A Speech; Be The Speech

Invite Your Inner Speaker To Dance

My friend Amanda, a dancer, gave an impromptu speech at a meeting. She announced it was her final night. She kept her body moving as she spoke. She spoke her gratitude, shared what she’d learned while packing up her bag, and then touched each person’s shoulder in farewell before dancing out the door. Adieu!

It worked because she trusted her personal strengths of communicating through dance, spontaneity and a good sense of timing. It worked because she trusted herself.

Often a fear of public speaking comes from uncomfortable self-consciousness and the belief that it is not OK to be you. Imagine what speaking in public might be like, if you were completely comfortable with yourself. Your inner public speaker may be quietly snoozing, just waiting for that wake-up kiss of self-trust.

Invite your inner public speaker to dance. Trust that what flows fourth like Amanda’s speech, is perfect for the moment. Amanda’s speech was so authentically Amanda; her message informed and entertained. And she really didn’t know what she was going to do next. She told me afterward she thought it was one of her best speeches and she was right.

Amanda didn’t try to give a speech; Amanda was the speech.

(c)2014, Geraldine Barkworth, public speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Shy People And Parties Survival Guide

Cheese Is A Terrific Starting Point

Many people find it difficult to “just be themselves”, especially shy people at parties. Remember that feeling when you first walk through the door, confronted by a sea of unknown faces or backs? Should you stick around or should you run? Parties can bring up fear of being separate or rejected by the group. Similar fears surface when public speaking.

Basically, when self consciousness looms, people shrink with fear and disappear, or pump themselves up with a flashy veneer.

At parties, it’s frequently a case of one human shield meeting another human shield – no wonder it’s difficult to connect meaningfully with the room awash with air kisses.

Trust & Rapport
Recently I attended a women’s’ “drinks & nibbles”. (Yes, the dreaded “After Hours Networking” – see the related article “Un-Networking For Shy People”.)

The guest speaker was a funeral director and she explained the process of building trust and rapport with someone you’ve never met before. Her process can also be applied to creating heart to heart connections at a party.

Level 1:  Surface chitchat about the party…Head nodding acknowledgement.
Level 2:  Basic information exchange…Name, connection to host.
Level 3:  Offering of safe opinions… Scanning for similarities.  Longer eye contact.
Level 4:  Exchange of appropriate personal thoughts…Standing closer, feeling safer.
Level 5:  Opening up & sharing honest feelings…Authentic Connection.

If your party experience traditionally stays between Levels 1 and 3, then you miss the opportunity to “show yourself” and so does the other person. Self consciousness keeps you in its’ grip and it’s purpose is to keep you feeling safe. Whether you need it or not.

And hey hey hey! If you get to Level 5, you can consider yourself someone who just got comfortable with being themselves at a party, or at least, with one new person. Shy people and parties, who would have thought?

Dropping The Mask
Most of us hide behind a façade at some point. We do this because we don’t feel safe enough to be ourselves. We fear judgement, rejection or loss. Parties and public speaking can trigger a lot of fear! Here’s a quote from a client of mine who sums it up:

“  I can see now that speakers who rely on putting up a mask, rob their audience of the authentic experience of being with them. “ Elise Wynyard, Art Therapist

And so it is at parties. When you wear a mask, you rob people meeting the real you. I am not recommending you drop your guard and expose yourself to the whole wide world this afternoon.

I am recommending you try this technique next time you feel uncomfortable at a party, or when public speaking:

•    Take a slow, deep breath and feel your feet on the floor.
•    Take all the time you need to slow down, make soft eye contact.
•    If you feel like it, introduce yourself to someone who willingly offers eye contact.
•    Pause, smile, and allow space for words to arise naturally. And they will.
•    If someone appears impatient and moves on because you didn’t enthral them within thirty seconds, let them go; you were never going to feel safe enough to open up and connect with this person anyway.

After The Party, Ask Yourself:
•    Is it more satisfying to have connected authentically with one real person, or
•    Is it more satisfying to have ten superficial conversations about the cheese?

It is not my intention to deride conversations about cheese. Cheese is a terrific starting point. The key is to find that starting point, a place of connection with another person. One real person, meets another real person and hey presto, you can be yourself, even as one of the shy people at parties.

© 2013, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au

Shut Up & Let Your Body Talk

Blah, blah, blah… talk, hype, buzz, “like”, “totally”, “awesome”, “it’s all good”. It’s hard to hear anything of value when people speak to one another these days. Mouths are endlessly moving but the meaning is lost in the babble.

I know I hunger for something true, something juicy, something meaningful. And more words, even if they are clever words, aren’t the answer.

What I want, and what most people want,  is credibility and realness. Followed by a hefty dollop of “what’s in it for me” content. Is this something you want too? Hell, we’ve only got one life, let’s make the most of it.

Credibility & Realness In 5 Simple Steps

When communicating, the key is to let your body talk for you. Actions do “speak louder than words”. We watch movement before we process word meaning. Make sure the messages your body sends to your listeners are congruent with your verbal message.

Here’s how to create credibility and realness with body talk whenever you speak:

1. Gently roll your shoulders back before you speak 1:1 or 1 to a group. This will open your abdomen, chest, shoulders, throat and face. People interpret this open posture as self confident, capable and receptive. They are more likely to listen to you, figuring if you believe in you, there’s good chance they will too.

2. Maintain gentle, neutral eye contact one person at a time. Focus on people who’s bodies are receptively listening to you. Stay with one person long enough to watch your words land on their face, for you to see the connection occur between you. Allowing yourself to stay still with one person at a time says without words, “I see you, I hear you, I am with you”. An audience / group feels respected when it knows the speaker is listening as well as speaking to them.

3. Keep a  stable, open leg stance if you are standing, or sit up straight if you are seated. If a strong wind arises, you won’t blow over and if there is critical interjection from the group you won’t crumble. A strong stance says without words, “I am capable of delivering and handling whatever comes my way.” This generates confidence, groundedness and a sense of permanence.

4. Take a breath, pause and slow down when you speak. There is no race to be won. People take speakers more seriously when they perceive the message is conveyed with gravitas. A pause is like a non verbal full-stop or comma. When you pause, it gives your listeners a chance to entrain with you, to match your pace and process your ideas. Offer choice, not imposition. By attending respectfully to the diversity of your group you convey, “I have something of importance to say, and I invite you to listen.”

5. Let natural hand, face and body gestures flow and underscore your words. If you describe something as “amazing”, express your amazement with your whole body. Eyes wide, mouth agape, fingers spread, shoulders lifted, a step back or a breath in. The word “amaze” is just a word, one word lost in a long presentation of sentences, paragraphs and points. When you show “amaze” with your whole body, people feel it and it travels deep inside to connect emotionally, beyond their ears.

When an audience, group or your friend connect emotionally with what you are saying and your words and body talk match in meaning, you will have credibility and realness whenever you speak. And that’s precious in today’s “like totally awesome it’s all good” blah blah world.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate your credibility and realness when you speak? Do your words have impact and are people inspired to follow through? Do you believe, you?

© 2011-17, Geraldine Barkworth, authentic speaking coach. This article is the opinion of the author only. www.goddessofpublicspeaking.com.au