On more than one occasion, I’ve had a new client whisper to me, “I’m an introvert. I’m not sure I can become confident speaking in front of a group.” I have only one response, “Hey, I’m an introvert, too. If I can do it, you can do it.”
According to experts writing in Psychology Today, the two key personality types of introvert and extrovert usually differ in how they are re-energized and motivated, how they interact with the world and how they process information. For example, introverts get re-energized by being alone and self-reflective. Extroverts are charged up by activity in their external environment.
In this era of so many individuals wanting to develop a “personal brand,” it may seem that the everyone in the business world is an extrovert. Studies on this vary, suggesting that it’s tough to pin down the exact split in the population, with some saying it’s very close to 50-50.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t learn to deliver your messages and story with relevance, finesse and impact. You may have to do more prep than an extrovert would do because introverts get their confidence from mulling over what they want to say and being prepared – no, make that over-prepared. But becoming a good presenter is a skill that can be learned. I am an introvert who worked for seven years as a business news reporter on national TV. It was a skill that I learned.
If you’re an introvert looking to become comfortable speaking or performing in public, you’re in good company. A few years ago, Inc. Magazine listed “23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History.” They are:
Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Stephen Spielberg, Sir Isaac Newton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Al Gore, Marissa Mayer, Abraham Lincoln, JK Rowling, Warren Buffet, Mahatma Gandhi, Hillary Clinton, Michael Jordan, Charles Darwin, Meryl Streep, Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, Dr. Seuss, Frederic Chopin and Barack Obama.
Checklist for Introverts Looking to Become Great Speakers
- Practice speaking in a low-risk situation. For example, as a volunteer working on a project, give your group a brief update or report. Or take the lead during a family discussion.
- Put in writing your top 3 key points. Remember, introverts like to be prepared.
- If you’re stuck on how to begin a presentation, start by referring to personal knowledge with the topic. For example, you can say, “In my experience, I’ve found that …” This allows you to begin with confidence because you’ve discussing something you know to be true and accurate.