Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln – all fantastic at public speaking throughout history. What do they have in common? They are all introverts.
“Public speaking is not a bravery contest – it’s a motor skill.” – Lifehack.
Introverts are stereotypically seen as quiet, shy and that they like to be alone. However that is far from who they are. They look inwards more (thinking more about their emotion and thoughts) whilst mainly avoiding being the centre of attention and prefer spending time alone to recharge. They are great listeners and very observant to their surroundings.
Being a good listener doesn’t mean introverts can’t speak up in public or stand in front of an audience. They can prefer to be more private yet still want to inspire lots of people. If you are anxious about speaking in public but you want to improve on that, looking at being an introvert as something to ‘get over’ won’t be helpful in the long run. Celebrate the parts of being an introvert which make you more effective as a public speaker. In this article, we explain the benefits of being an introvert within public speaking.
As a speaker, you need to have the skill to communicate your message well. This doesn’t necessarily mean being the life of the party. Being thoughtful and careful in the choices you make about a speech whilst taking into consideration the audience and is one of the most effective ways of public speaking. This is where introverts can be more efficient with this skill than extroverts.
According to ‘Lifehack’: “The best speakers are not the bravest, they are the ones with the best technique”. With any skill that you need to work on, it becomes a process through practice and this is where introverts can have an advantage. They will spend lots of time independently observing, analysing and thinking, as well as researching and reading. An introvert will also be more sensitive to situations and people around them, picking up subtle cues and any slight changes, which can help with seeing any shifts in the audience members body language or behaviour. Introverts are very aware of how they come across to people, analysing the smallest details.
“A great speech is never about the speaker” – Speak Well Academy.
The speaker needs to focus their speech on the audience. This focus is then surrounded on the delivery of the speech. Some extroverts may focus on themselves within the speech too much (their experiences, stories and opinion), whereas an introvert will be focusing more on how the speech is coming across to the audience. Then when speaking, they can adjust to the real-time changes and how the audience are responding.
Identifying your ability to speak with awareness of others and your surroundings whilst being a good listener is a strong skill to have. Writer and Lecturer Susan Cain speaks about ‘The Power of Introverts’ in a TED Talk. She explains that institutions, workplaces and education as a whole teach and design more for extroverts. She argues that “this bias creates a waste of talent, energy and happiness”. If some introverts see themselves more as shy and unconfident individuals in a society that values extroverts more, that delays their ability to see their full potential.
Know your audience
Knowing your audience when it comes to delivering the right speech is essential. Taking the judgement out of the audience whist also not trying to seek approval is key. Introverts will take more time to analyse their audience beforehand, researching the key points, questions to answer and how their overall message will come across.
Both extroverts and introverts can learn from each other when it comes to any walks of life.