Have you ever been called on in a meeting to give your thoughts about the discussion but felt unprepared? Or maybe a brainstorming session is almost impossible for you? Even though we know an introvert’s brain works differently than the extrovert’s, we actually can prepare and plan for spontaneity!
1. Use your listening. Take a few seconds to practice active listening and repeat what you believe was the question. Our brain is so powerful that as you repeat this out loud you can begin to structure your answer.
2. Plan – to be spontaneous! Almost any book about presentations will tell you most people can only remember 3 to 5 key ideas. Have you ever noticed how many numbers in our lives – telephone, zip code – have just that amount? Three to five numbers in the sequence. So when a question is tossed to you to comment on a topic, grab and begin to plan at least 3 key points in your mind as you are at step 1.
3. One and then its opposite. Now as you begin to talk, focus on that first key point. As you focus and talk to that point, you can either be thinking about a contrary point or something similar with a slight difference, and that helps you make another point. Remember, in an impromptu presentation you only need 3 to 5 key ideas.
4. Fill in the point. Presentation training often emphasizes that making your points through story telling is the quickest way to help people understand what you are talking about. As an introvert a story illustration, a personal anecdote, a relevant statistic, will also give you time to harvest your next point.
5. Be satisfied with silence. The truth is, silence is okay but as human beings we think we always have to always be talking. With each of your three to five points, as you go along, ask a question. Pause. Allow about 30 seconds for a response –yes; it will seem like forever but it isn’t. This gives you the double advantage of getting your audience involved and yourself time to think. NOTE: no fillers like, “um,” “ya’ know,” “uh,” and the like are acceptable. There is wasted breath.
BONUS idea: When brainstorming make it okay for yourself to pass on the first round and use it to your advantage. If possible make notes of the ideas that you are hearing. You’re almost guaranteed an “ah ha” as you see what is being said. Now on the usual second round, you’re in the game!
Whether you feel caught off guard in a meeting, or find brainstorming to move to fast, you can actually gather your thoughts, keep your focus and contribute to the conversation spontaneously.
What works for you when you need to speak, say off-the-cuff?