We’ve talked about how extroverts communicate. But outward-focused extraverts are only half the population — what if you’re not one of them?
Are You an Introvert?
Susan Cain’s wonderful book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking has focused some welcome attention on introverts, and how society short-changes us.
What this means is that, while you may be outgoing, effervescent or socially skilled, if you secretly long to crawl back into your private “cave,” you’re an introvert. (By the way, caves vary. Mine contains a claw foot bathtub, a glass of semi-dry Riesling and a J.D. Robb novel.)
How Introverts Communicate
In contrast to the more loquacious extraverts, introverts are cautious about voicing any thoughts that haven’t been “fully baked” yet. This can make meetings or (worse!) Q&As feel like a gauntlet for introverts, who hate sounding less than eloquent.
On the other hand, when you take the risk of adding personal flair to your natural depth of thought, introverts can be superbly persuasive public speakers.
Plus, think of it this way: The only place in a room where you’re safe from having to make small talk is at the podium!
Introvert Communicators: Yes, It Is About You
The hardest lesson for introvert communicators is to leave their modesty at the stage door.
“It’s about the ideas, not about me,” is a typical introvert disclaimer — and one that couldn’t be more wrong.
You must offer yourself, along with your ideas because, no matter how powerful, how good, or how right your ideas are, people are less inclined to care if they don’t like and feel connected with you.
Use Your Introvert Strengths
You may not feel that being an introvert outfits you to “own the room”; yet some of the best public speakers I know are introverts. That’s because, as introverts, we’re well positioned to:
- Read the mood of an audience, and adjust to their level of energy and attention;
- Put aside our own need for approval, and pay attention to what our audience needs;
- Reflect quickly on new ideas and input, so that we’re less likely to be caught off guard than many extraverts; and
- Monitor our own inner state, to manage anxieties and insecurities.
Add to this the other strengths that we bring, from our own experiences and personal styles, and we introverts are more than able to “rock the podium.”
How Introverts Communicate: Putting It All Together
The best public speaking styles are built on strength, and your love of concepts and thoughtful reflection is definitely a public speaking asset.
To make the most of how introverts communicate in developing your communications style, force yourself to practice out loud… imagine that you’re in dialogue with the audience… use the same gestures and emphasis you use in private speech… and let your passion and personality shine through!
It’s your world — go out and present to it!