by Laura Gibbons
Public speaking can be a daunting task for anyone despite whether they are an introvert or an extrovert. Just to be clear, when someone is classified as an introvert, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are shy or timid. In fact, many introverts are not shy at all. The term introvert actually refers to someone that is energized by spending time alone. Spending time in large crowds or just being around other people constantly throughout the day can be very draining to an introvert. They need time alone to gather their thoughts and recharge. Just because an introvert enjoys spending time alone does not mean that they can’t be excellent public speakers. Public speaking is a skill that can be acquired by all despite whether you thrive in public settings or not. Here are 10 public speaking tips for introverts that you can use to improve your public speaking skills.
1 – Preparation is key. Take the time to write out all of your talking points. Your speech should flow logically and should be easy to follow. When writing out all of your talking points, note stories or examples that you can add to the presentation. You want to choose examples that highlight your points, are easy to follow, and that will be compelling to your audience. Data and charts are great additions to a presentation, but stories tend to really drive the point home.
2 – Keep the audience in mind. Remember that presentations are for the audience’s benefit not the presenter’s. The audience is there because they have a problem that needs to be solved and they are looking to you for that answer. Once you have identified what the audience is hoping to get out of the presentation, it will be much easier to write and deliver an impactful presentation.
3 – Practice out-loud. Once your speech has been prepared, you should practice it out-loud several times. A presentation may sound very different in your head than it does when said out-loud. You can practice in front of people that you trust to give you honest feedback or videotape yourself. When practicing your speech, use a timer to track how long the presentation lasts to make sure it will last the appropriate amount of time.
4 – Watch videos of other people’s presentations. In today’s internet age, you can find and view a speech on almost any topic. Find a topic that interests you and then listen to several people present their ideas on that topic. Pay attention to how the speeches are constructed. Are they mostly data driven, full of examples, or a combination of both? Pay attention to the speech patterns and the tempo of the presentation. What do you like, dislike, or think could have been presented in a more meaningful manner? Incorporate those strengths into your own presentation and make note of the weaknesses.
5 – Focus on what you do best. Every person has strengths and weaknesses. It is important to recognize your skill set and focus on your strengths. If humor comes naturally to you and you are comfortable telling jokes in front of others, incorporate that into your presentation. If you are a naturally story teller than use stories to drive your points home. By focusing on your strengths and incorporating them into your presentation, it will go smoother and appear more natural to the audience.
6 – Think of a presentation as a mini performance. While it is important to still be true to yourself when presenting, it can help to think of a presentation as a performance. You can create an onstage persona that helps you feel confident and in control. If you tend to be soft spoken, you can think of your on-stage persona as having a loud confident voice. This can help put you in the right mindset to perform at your best.
7 – Smile at your audience. Smiling is a great way to put yourself and your audience at ease. When you enter the room, make a conscious effort to smile at the audience. This will make you appear more likeable and friendly. Once the presentation is over smile at the audience again.
8 - Make eye contact. During the presentation it is important to look around the round and make eye contact with the different members of the group. You don’t want to stare at only one person or one spot. Making eye contact with different audience members will make them feel as though you are speaking to them and will make you appear more in control. If it is difficult to see people in the audience due to lighting, it is still important to appear to be looking around the audience.
9 – Calm your body and mind before the presentation. You can take some deep breaths or shake your arms or your legs. Anything works as long as it gets your blood pumping and helps calm your mind. You won’t be at your best if you are shaking from nerves or panicking about last minute details. Find whatever helps calm you down and focus on that before your presentation.
10 - Learn from the experience. Remember that all experiences, good or bad, are opportunities for us to learn and improve. Write a list of all the things that went well in the presentation. Did people really respond to the tempo of the speech or the tone of your voice? Did charts or graphs help carry the conversation? Make notes of all the positives so that you can utilize something similar in a later experience. Once your list of positives is completed make a list of items that you want to improve. Did you struggle with Q&A because you didn’t feel prepared for certain questions or couldn’t remember a data point. These are items that you can think through and prepare for the next time. You must remember that no one is perfect and that an error is not the end of the world. You will improve with practice and experience.
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About the Author:
Laura Gibbons is the founder of 9to5SurvivalGuide.com. Laura has survived 12+ years in the corporate retail environment. She has dealt with difficult co-workers, impossible bosses, and stressful work environments. She now shares her insights and expertise on career advancement and 9 to 5 survival through her website.