I am giving a presentation at a conference later this week. I am looking forward to it. Even though I am an introvert, I really do enjoy giving presentations and public speaking. I have come to realize that, while I’m not someone who can “wing it,” if I am prepared, have expertise, and passion for the subject I can do well.
Preparation is key to me, as an introvert, because I want and need to think about things before speaking. If I am an expert in a subject, then I have done the thinking already and the words come more naturally to me. It is those topics that I have not spent a lot of timing thinking about before that can give me trouble. I do need to think about topics and process them in my mind before speaking about them. In my everyday life, I have learned that it is okay to take some time to think and let people know this. However, in a presentation I want to come off as the expert and in a public speaking setting, it doesn’t usually work to stop and think.
I feel totally prepared for my spoken remarks; however, my upcoming presentation also includes audience participation and Q & A. So, what if someone asks me a question I am not prepared for? Or what if someone disagrees with me? I hope this is not going to happen, but I do need to be ready.
In A Guide to Public Speaking for Introverted and Shy People, Jonathon Colman gives some great suggestions on this issue (and much more). He does clarify that being introverted and shy are not the same. (Note: In the quote below, bold items are his quotes, and those in italics are mine.)
“As a speaker, you can keep this sort of disagreement positive and useful for your audience with a few simple tactics:” tweet
Be accountable. If you do make a mistake be honest and follow up later if needed. tweet
Save the drama for your mama. Don’t take things personally. It is okay to laugh at yourself from time to time. tweet
Crowd-source your answers. Maybe there is something you do not know, but an audience member does. tweet
Know when you can’t win. It is probably not the time for a debate. It may be a time to offer to have a conversation after. tweet
I also am learning to be more comfortable in presentations by saying things like “let me think about that” or “I haven’t thought about that before.” I may come up with something on the spot or I may just leave it at that.
One of Colman’s concluding points:
“With enough hard work and focus, you can be just as good at public speaking as almost anyone you admire at any conference. You have the capacity to influence others with your knowledge, inspire an audience to learn a new subject, and engage with as many new people as you need.” tweet
Remember, as an introvert you have great strengths. You just need to figure out what they are and how best to work with them. Wish me luck on my presentation!