Individuals with introverted personalities often have problems with public speaking. An introverted personality is one that tends towards quieter introspection, rather than making loud speeches. An introvert, while still knowing their subject inside and out, might also speak softly, not make eye contact, and have difficulties going off a script. Introverts’ tendency towards not wanting to make themselves the centre of attention may also mean that they don’t want to have to face up to a large crowd of people. Doing so can be stressful, and can mean that they build up repeated nerves about public speaking. However, there are some ways in which an introvert can develop some more effective presentation skills:
1 – Think Through a Fear of Speaking
When you think about public speaking, what is the main thing that you’re scared about? Is it the attention on you, or is the fear of making a mistake? A good way of looking at this problem is to think about how you as an audience respond to other speakers. Are you scrutinising their every word, and do you notice if they make a mistake? A speaker tends to be hyper alert to their problems, and may not actually realise that the audience won’t notice small mistakes.
2 – Rehearse
A simple technique, but one that means you will deliver an actual presentation having gone over it many times before. The important thing to remember is not to get a word perfect version of a presentation, but rather to understand how the delivery should roughly flow. Read out the speech to a friend or a small audience, and look for ways to simplify and make points in a more concise way.
3 – Eye Contact
Making eye contact can be particularly difficult for an introvert. However, directing a presentation at your feet is only going to make it more difficult to get a point across. One approach is to focus on just one person for a few seconds at a time, and keep on looking around a room.
4 – Relax Before a Presentation
Give yourself time to relax before a presentation, even if you are feeling nervous. Don’t rush to get to the presentation, and try to drink water and eat something, even if you feel too ill to do so. The worst part of a presentation is often the minutes just before it starts, with the actual presentation flying by.
5 – Think About Who Inspires You
It’s worth watching some videos of other presenters that you feel inspire you before your own speech. Look for what their strengths are, and how they structure their talks, and think about how you might incorporate these skills into your own presentation.
6 – Give Yourself Time to Check Out the Room You’re Speaking In
Tech problems can break your concentration, and cause you to lose confidence. Always check the room before you speak, and make sure that any PowerPoint slides or video clips run properly. Rushing to get everything set up while an audience waits is going to make them lose concentration.
7 – Don’t Try to Work To an Exact Word Count
Trying to make your presentation as concise as possible on the page doesn’t always mean that it will translate the same way when spoken. Reading it out lots of times will mean that you will get a general sense of the structure. Moreover, keeping things a little bit shorter than you think is appropriate for the running time means that you can get through your points without having to rush.
8 – Remember Strengths
Introverted presenters are typically the ones that have spent the most time preparing and checking their work. An audience will respond to that, and will appreciate the effort. In this way, the pleasure of having given a good presentation can help outweigh any previous nerves.
Christina Appleworth is an intern for Speak First. Inspire confidence and create impact via our presentation skills training courses available throughout the UK.