When it comes to presentations, it's just talking, right? And who appears to speak with the most ease and with the least amount of effort? Naturally, we are inclined to believe extroverts are the more skilled presenters when compared to their introverted counterparts, but ... hold the phone.
While words appear to come more easily for our extroverted friends who gain their energy from being around others, introverts are missing out if they (and others) believe they are not serious contenders as speakers. Assuming introverts are not gifted speakers is the one mistake introverts make and the dangerous misconception held by so many. Quite to the contrary, they may be even more talented on the mic than others. Here are three reasons why.
1. Introverts are incredibly self-aware, and this bodes well for their speaking. Before they utter a thought, introverts carefully scrutinize their words and ideas, paying keen attention to the entire packaging of their messaging. They are not quick to take to a microphone without first carefully analyzing any combination of their appearance, body language and other nonverbal communication, and/or how they want their message to be received. As such, during impromptu moments when called upon to "say a few words," they are not eager to speak up not because they do not have anything to say; it is because they have not had ample opportunity to organize their thoughts and ensure they produce a quality message—even if it is to say only a few words.
They want to think before they speak; they want what they say to be carefully scripted in their minds so when it is verbalized, there is little to no room for them to look or sound less than polished. Now, let me be abundantly clear. This is not to suggest extroverts are not sensitive to the quality of their messages; they simply require far less time to organize their thoughts and, quite honestly, they prefer speaking during unscripted moments. They are the ones who do not need a PowerPoint deck and can crush it! But because of introverts' inclination to examine and re-examine most of what they plan to say before they verbalize it, their self-awareness and acute attention to detail can result in them quite talented during formal speaking engagements.
2. Introverts like to build their skills in private as opposed to jumping in feet first. This is particularly advantageous for introverts because they are comfortable being in a room alone (just ask New York Times best-selling author and introvert Susan Cain) and are, therefore, more likely to practice for their presentations in the one and only way one should ever practice, which is to deliver presentations all alone while out of sight of others and full-out as if there is an audience watching.
A mistake many speakers make is mentally going through their presentations and dubbing it as having practiced, but introverts are less likely to make this mistake. By conducting a dress rehearsal in private and without distractions, they hear the words they plan to articulate in front of the live audience. Once you hear the words, see the gestures, and get a sense of the flow of the presentation, you know where to fix lulls, how to ensure the audience is engaged, and whether your message is on-track. Knowing all of this and, more importantly, addressing it during practice and well before showtime results in a presentation that is methodically and thoughtfully delivered with intention.
3. Introverts' preference for learning by listening intently, paying attention to others, and making discoveries through observation gives them a true advantage on the stage. If there is any guarantee with any presentation, it is that your audience will give you a reaction without saying a word. Introverts' astute attention to others' nonverbal communication and introverts' tendency to be great observers is a plus in the presentation environment because if they sense a positive vibe from the audience, then they know they are on the right trajectory; however, if the body language tells them otherwise, then they know they need to do or say something different and do or say it quickly to avoid losing the momentum they have built.
Rather than committing to delivering the message at all costs while ignoring any telltale signs of negativity from audience members, if and when placed in a scenario where multiple audience members appear less than satisfied with the message, introverts are better positioned to learn from these reactions. They will assess their content and its delivery, then endeavor to offer points of clarification or opportunities for the audience to provide feedback, thereby, keeping the message on target.
Simply put, if one is an introvert, it does not mean one is not destined to make stellar presentations. Actually, an introvert may be quite the thoughtful and organized speaker with a heightened sense of awareness of audience needs. Popular beliefs or widely accepted attitudes will suggest extroverts are positioned to give the best speaking performances; however, it's time for a paradigm shift because—let's be clear—introverts are wired to rock the mic just as well as—if not better than!—anyone else.
You’ve got this!
Photograph credit: Christina Arriaga
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