What would you rather do on a Friday night: Party in a club or spend a quiet night in reading a book? Go out with friends or play a video game? Depending on what you choose, you’ll either belong to the extravert or introvert camp (yes, according to Carl Jung, it’s spelled with an “a”).
Extraversion is a clear concept: social, energetic, and more of a doer than a thinker. Meanwhile, introversion has had its fair share of misconceptions: quiet, shy, and prefers to keep things to themselves.
In the working world, are those qualities keeping an introvert from being a public speaker?
Being an Introvert
First off, how do you define introversion? What are the traits of an introvert?
According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introversion is the tendency to prefer “quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”
She adds, “It’s also important to understand that introversion is different from shyness,” the latter being the inherent trait to be awkward or apprehensive most commonly due to social anxiety.
To answer the hanging question above, let’s dispel the notion that you, an introvert, are more likely to be a poor public speaker with the following pointers. Let’s prove them wrong and show the power of introverts.
This is always a must. Any activity requires proper planning and preparation before you begin. Public speaking is no different. In fact, talking before a crowd is a good exercise of your organizational skills. What are your pre-speech rituals? How do you warm up before the big day?
Checking if your script is flawless and practicing until your stage routine is perfect are healthy exercises. When all that needs to be ironed out has been nailed down, you only need to worry about the stage fright.
Since introverts have thought processes that take longer than extraverts, their preparations eat up a lot of time. This is fine. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. What matters is how comfortable you feel before going onstage and what you will do when you face your audience.
True, it’s hard to be confident when you’re out of your comfort zone. That’s where Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy’s concept of faking it until you make it becomes helpful.Strike a power pose in private before taking the stage.Click To Tweet
Think that you’re confident enough to do this speech and that you’re going to end on a high note. You’ll feel much better knowing that you can do this.
While a confidence booster, this tangentially goes against the commonly-dished advice: “be yourself.” While the latter is great to watch because of the sincerity, relatability, and humanizing nature of the speaker, who’s to say that the confidence in “faking it until you make it” isn’t genuine and sincere?
Rather, when the audience sees the spark and enthusiasm of the speaker, they are immediately enthralled and captivated. Light and easy gazes make for a better public speaking experience.
One of the biggest differences between an extravert and an introvert is how they draw energy. While extraverts usually draws energy from the hype and excitement around them, introverts gets tired very quickly and easily when it comes to noises and crowds.
Introverts, however, recharge better during their personal “me” time (below is how we envision an introvert’s “me” time set up looks like).
When onstage, a good train of thought is that the whole speech will end in just a few minutes. “A few minutes more.” After that, you’re done. You can go back to your quiet time, be alone with your thoughts, and be well within your comfort zone.
If you’re going to have a reassuring thought, it might as well be the fact that you’re going to return to your happy place soon.
Lastly, anyone can become a public speaker if they have the drive and self-discipline to improve and better themselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extravert.
You don’t have to be an extravert to wow a crowd, make an audience laugh, or even be liked. What matters is how you train, develop, and hone your skills and apply them onstage.
Also under this broad term is how you view shyness. Do you think you’re shy because you’re an introvert? Or are you an introvert because you’re shy?
While there are overlaps between them, they’re two completely different concepts. Recall Susan Cain’s words at the beginning of the piece.
Most of all, recite this mantra: “There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.”
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be a great speaker. In fact, introverts have qualities that put them ahead of extraverts.
Because their thought processes are longer, they prepare more steadily and more carefully, especially when it comes to word use, logic, and possible consequences.
With that level of consideration and caution, introverts create safe spaces that put themselves and their audiences at ease.