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As an introvert, have you ever struggled to have your voice heard?  I know I have.  Over the years, I have learned several ways to be heard, whether in a large group during a meeting or even as the main presenter.  Yes, introverts can be great public speakers!

In this podcast, I share my six tips for getting heard and a few bonus tips for feeling comfortable and prepared when speaking in front of a crowd. 

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Minding Your Time: Time Management, Productivity, and Success, Especially for Introverts

Contact the host of Quiet and Strong :

David Hall
Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster
quietandstrong.com
Gobio.link/quietandstrong
david@quietandstrong.com

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Podcast Transcript

Presentations and having your voice heard, especially for introverts

Hello, and welcome to the Quiet and Strong Podcast, Especially for introverts.  I am your host, David Hall and creator of quietandstrong.com.  This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally we will air each episode on Monday morning.  Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. 

As an introvert, have you ever struggled to have your voice heard?  I know I have.  I have come a long way since my early days and wanted to share a few thoughts. As an introvert, I have a lot of ideas, but it took some time and experience to learn how to share them and not be nervous.

This past week I organized an online conference for work.  I also ended up being the emcee for the opening session. It was funny just before the opening session started I was talking to the speakers online and sure enough one of them said, David you are on mute!  I laughed and said I was glad I got that out of the way.  There has definitely been a lot of that in 2020 and now in 2021, can you hear me ok?  Or I think you’re on mute.  There have been times where I said something brilliant or so I thought only been told you’re on mute.  At least if it is known you are speaking you can be told that.  The worst is when you are jumping into the conversation on mute and no one knows you are even trying to say something.  Unfortunately, even sometimes in an in person setting introverts can feel that they are on “mute”. Have you had that feeling before?  We don’t share everything, we think before we speak, and so we put ideas together and we come up with a succinct response.  So people may not be expecting something from us all of the time.  I am always going to think deeply and naturally put my thoughts together.  I am probably going to speak less than my extroverted colleague that may be thinking aloud.  They may be sharing everything and I may just be sharing what I think are my best ideas and most important.  I do have ideas I want to share whether it be in a public speech, presentation, or in a variety of meetings.  I struggled with having my voice heard early on and have learned many strategies that work for me as an introvert. When I was younger, I had a terrible fear of public speaking.  I would agonize before and sometimes after.  There would be a shakiness in my voice and my knees, along with a dry mouth.  I have come a long way since then and have given many successful public speeches in a variety of formats.  

I thought my online conference went well.  I was excited about it and did my best to prepare. I am an introvert and 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.  Also, keep in mind that public speaking can be difficult for extroverts too.  Just the strategies to get better may be different.  It was funny a friend of mine once read one of my blog posts and thought he was an introvert because public speaking made him nervous.  I asked him a few questions and he definitely was an extrovert.  He can get better at public speaking, and probably can learn from some of my tips, but should also look for advice from a fellow extrovert. 

Preparation is key for 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.  When you are behind the podium giving a speech or presentation, this is not the time to think.  To prepare, think about the following questions: Who is your audience?  What are the key points that you want to drive home?  How much time do you have?  I spend some time at least a few days ahead of time putting my thoughts together.  If I am doing a slide show I may write some notes in the presentation.  For this past event I had one slide as the emcee that helped keep me on track.  Then in the days before, I am open to new ideas or modifications that come into my head about the presentation.  I write those down as they come to me.  My mind is always going so this approach works well after I have done the initial work.  Does it work for you to rehearse?  If so, do it and get some feedback. I like to think quite a bit beforehand, but rarely do a run-through. For some reason practicing or role playing doesn’t work well for me. Again, what works for you? When you are comfortable with the material, it will be easier to get your points across without having to think too much. The morning before the event, I purposely did not plan to do anything else, but go over my notes and relax as I think about my message.

Someone asked me before the event if I was nervous.  And it was nice to confidently say that I was not.  I had done the work.  If you find that you are nervous, what are you telling yourself?  Maybe it is time to tell yourself a new story. For example, remind yourself you have something great to share and that people need to hear your message. If you are a perfectionist like me, you may need to tell yourself that you are going to give a great presentation, but you are human so it may not be perfect. Remember, all in the audience members are human and not perfect either.

When it is over, review and reflect on how you did. Your next one will be even better. And of course, plan some recharge time after.  In this case, I took a drive and took myself out to lunch. 

Apart from speeches and presentations I have found a few different methods useful in having my voice heard.  As you are heard this can also lead to presentations and speeches if you desire.

First Become an expert in your area.  When I am knowledgeable and passionate about something, I can easily articulate my ideas and usually don’t need as much time to think about them, because I already have. Have you found a career that you are passionate about?  Push yourself to learn more about your subject, and also awareness of your personality and the personality of others. Learn about success strategies from multiple sources. Make your own proactive learning plan.  Don’t be passive and just do the training that is offered to you.  Volunteer for opportunities where you can continue to learn and expand your knowledge.  Go to conferences, webinars, and listen to podcasts.  I know you are doing one of these.  And of course read about those that have had success in your field and outside of your field. When you are the expert, people will listen and you will feel confident.  Of course be confident while you are still a work in progress.  We are all a work in progress.

2) Be competent and be someone who gets things done.  I have heard the expression “its not what you know, but who you know.”  I think that both are important.  Who you know will generally only help you in landing the position.  Knowing your strengths, or what you know and what you can do, will carry you far, and this expertise can help give you a voice in your organization and chosen field. Be organized according to your introvert needs.  Again, I discovered I could plan out my days and weeks with my introverted needs in mind, such as giving myself time to think and taking appropriate recharge time, and this has helped me find great success and get things done.  This was the inspiration for my first book, Minding your time.

3) Insist on an agenda for meetings.  I find that if I can prepare for a meeting ahead of time, I can think things through and be prepared to have a discussion, offer suggestions, and make decisions.  Sometimes during the meeting, ideas will be presented that I will still need to give some thought to.  I need to insist on having that time.  It is fine to give me a deadline, but give me some time.

I attend many meetings each week.  As an introvert, sometimes it’s difficult to voice your ideas in a room full of people talking. Yet if you’re a deep thinker, you likely have a lot of thoughts on the topic of discussion. I have learned a couple things over the years that have helped me be more effective during meetings.

Before the Meeting – I do like to give things some thought, so I make sure that I have the agenda ahead of time (and that there is one). If I’m in charge of the meeting, I try to send out the agenda in advance. If I’m an attendee, I contact the person in charge to get a copy of the agenda prior to the meeting, so I have time to go over it. Also, the more people in the meeting, the harder it may be to get all the points covered that you want to.  I make sure to write down points or questions that I feel need to be covered and bring this with me to the meeting. You may also want to send an email ahead of time with the points you want to make or some questions that you have.

During the Meeting – While the discussions are taking place, the conversations often spark ideas – sometimes related to the meeting topic and sometimes not. As these  ideas come to me during the meeting I make sure to make note of them. This way, I have a list I can bring up either at an appropriate time during the meeting or cover at a later time. If you are leading the meeting make sure everyone has a chance to speak and that the meeting is not being monopolized by a few. 

After the Meeting -When I am back in my office, I take a few minutes to go through my notes from the meeting and am sure to capture ideas and tasks, etc. Hopefully you said everything that you wanted, but if not or if you have a new idea send a follow up email to the group.  We do tend to have a strength in writing. We all have that thought, I wish I would have said this.  So don’t be afraid to follow up

4) Continue to bring awareness to your needs.  I have found that explaining my needs to others, such as the need for time to think, sometimes a few moments and sometimes a day, has gone a long way.  Some people really will not understand unless you tell them.  I have also found it very helpful to talk about these things with fellow introverts.  It is easier not to go it alone. If you can say with a fellow introvert or two, “we need some time to think,” it can be much easier.

5) Be aware of how you are being perceived.  When I spend time alone, I may think I am getting a ton of work done, while someone else thinks I am hiding out. We need to build relationships to strengthen our voice. To do this, we need to be sure to be aware of the needs of both our introverted and extroverted colleagues.

Are you OK?

Have you ever been asked this question when everything is fine?  And did you think that you appeared fine? I was at a workshop on a topic that was very interesting to me.  I thought I was contributing plenty to the conversations both for the large group and at my table.  On a break, the facilitator asked me if I was OK.  She said she couldn’t tell if I was enjoying the workshop or perhaps I was being pensive.  Yes, pensive!  I told her that “pensive” was a great way to describe me. 

How is pensive mistaken for something being wrong?  As an introvert.  I was built to think and I naturally turn to my inner world of ideas.  This can be a great strength… often, as I am lost in thought, I have come up with creative and innovative ideas.  But how does it look to others when I am lost in thought?  I have learned, especially in one-on-one conversations, to let others know when I am pausing a moment to ponder something. So to some that do not understand introversion, it may seem like I am being too “quiet.”  As an introvert, your conversation partners don’t see all of the many thoughts buzzing around in your head.  They see only what you choose to share.  An extrovert that speaks to think may appear to be more engaged as most of their thoughts are being verbalized.  I am not saying that one way is right or wrong, but I am saying that these differences need to be understood.

We all still have much work to do to spread the word about the differences, strengths, and needs of introverts and extroverts. Here are a few things I try to remember when conversing with others:

  1. I DO need to make sure that I am engaged in the conversation. 
  2. I DO need to let people know when I am taking time to think. 
  3. And I DO need to share those brilliant ideas that come when I am deep in thought. 

So next time someone asks… Yes, you are ok!  In fact you are more than ok!  Your amazing mind is doing its work and you are coming up with brilliant ideas.

6) Keep your email organized.  While introverts often prefer to communicate via email, in this digital age, even email conversations can happen very quickly.  We like to take time to think about things, so sometimes if we are not fast we may be left out, even in an email discussion. By staying on top of your inbox and staying organized, you can ensure that you are involved with ongoing emails and the many critical work decisions that are made through this medium.  I am continually pushing myself to be better organized, so that I can keep up and have a voice in these discussions.

Sometimes it may feel that the “extroverted” way is the right way, because we are hearing from the extroverts more often.  Their thoughts are always out there, while we introverts are naturally thinking our thoughts before speaking them. But, wouldn’t you prefer to hear a well thought out idea versus a haphazard one? You have some great things to say. You don’t have to be an extrovert for our voices —  our ideas and opinions – to come across loud and clear.  Take your time, use your strengths, find your voice and be heard.

 Thank you so much for joining me.  I look forward to further connecting with you.  Reach out quietandstrong.com, david@.  I will add social media channels to the show notes. Please comment on the social media posts related to this podcast.  Send me topics or questions and we can address those on the show. So many great things about being an introvert and so we need those to be understood.  Let’s keep the conversation going.  Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be Strong!

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