Public Speaking Tips for Introverts
Public speaking isn’t just an extrovert’s game. If you’re soft-spoken, here’s how to prepare for and deliver an awesome speech all the same.
What elevates a public speaker from decent to dynamic? Contrary to popular belief, a flashy, bombastic delivery isn’t a prerequisite for being a great speaker. When on stage, the best speakers know that communication is a two-way street and are just as concerned with genuinely connecting with their audience as they are with charming them.
In fact, some speakers you may already be familiar with are noted introverts. Malcolm Gladwell, known for his engaging written work on psychology and the social sciences, is a self-confessed introvert, but his thoughtful and cerebral nature has led to wildly successful, enlightening speeches.
While extroverts may feel more comfortable getting up in front of an audience, introverts have just as compelling of a story to tell. Make your introversion work for you when you get onstage with these essential strategies.
Preparation is Key
While this advice rings true for any speaker, introverts may want to heed this advice more stringently. Even Malcolm Gladwell has admitted to preparing every single word of his talks beforehand. For introverts, this type of regimented preparation can be liberating. Not only does it help you feel more comfortable with the material and delivery, you will also gain a sense of confidence through practice.
It’s best to approach rehearsing with an array of different tactics. Try giving your speech in the mirror first. When you’re ready to expand your audience, practice for a supportive confidant. If possible, visit the venue before your speech to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Reserving time to prepare will help calm your nerves, ready you for what to expect and give you confidence for your talk.
Preserve Your Energy
It’s common knowledge that extroverts recharge amongst people, whereas introverts need quiet time to feel refreshed. As a result, the non-stop social atmosphere of conferences can be especially demanding for introverts. If you’re delivering a speech at a conference, be sure to set aside alone time in advance: rise early for solitary time before breakfast, schedule goals to hit throughout the day to structure your social interactions and take a moment away from the activity when necessary.
Before your speech, find a tranquil space to be alone and carry out a pre-speech routine. Reenergize on your own terms, whether it’s taking a walk or meditating. If you’re assertive about your need to recharge, you’ll be able to approach your speech with a collected mind.
Perhaps the biggest source of relief can be found in this simple statement: your speech isn’t about you. It’s about your message. Realign your focus away from your own nerves and anxiety toward the people listening to your speech. After all, your listeners care about your message and what they can learn from it and they don’t care about your anxieties. In order to connect with your audience more fully, you may want address them conversationally, asking rhetorical questions and placing their interest at the center of the speech.
Accept Your Nerves and Put on a Show
Remember that while you’re on stage, you get to be someone different for a little while. Public speaking is fundamentally a performance. When introverts like Malcolm Gladwell step onstage, they step into a different persona, one that allows them to forget their fears and perform for their audiences with calmness and confidence.
So put on that bold extroverted smile and slip into confidence like a mask. Fear not: when it’s all said and done, you can exit the stage and return to your good old introverted self.