An edited and revised book on public speaking for introverts based on the articles from this site
4 Reasons To Be Confident About Your Presentation
As you prepare to go up to the stage, it is good to reflect on the reasons you have to be confident that your presentation is likely to succeed and impress its message upon the audience.
The Bar Is Set Low
The majority of presentations are awful. I’ve sat through them, you’ve sat through them, everyone in the audience has sat through them. Awful is what your audience is expecting. If a presentation is ‘reasonable’ your audience will be happy. A good, solid, well structured, entertaining presentation is beyond their normal hopes – such presentations are few and far between. I’ve known good presenters who get told years later that someone remembers them speaking – and I’ve known bad presenters who I haven’t recognised in the hallway outside their presentation. All you have to do to be remembered – and for your message to be remembered – is to aim above the bar. Its an easy target.
You Are Prepared
The most obvious flaw in other people’s presentations is under preparation. We’ve already discussed the main reason why: for the extravert the presentation, the act of presenting, is the thing. When an extravert is asked to present, he thinks a little about what his slides should look like, and a lot about the energy he will get from being on stage. The extravert doesn’t like the hours spent planning, researching and crafting his presentation – so frequently he decides to shorten this time and wing it. In most cases this leads to poor results.
As an introvert, you (and I) are not going to want to think about being on stage – indeed, we keep that to the back of our minds while we do the prep work. It is the time we spend before the presentation that allows us to be confident we are going to say exactly what we want to say in exactly the manner we want the audience to hear it.
Planning is only part of the presentation (an important part – and we will talk about the performance – the other part – later), but it is part you can be certain you have nailed, because it is the part of presenting that fits an introverts nature.
You Are In Control
You may not realise this, but when you give a presentation, you are in control.
The presenter is in a position of authority, and the audience, sitting in their chairs, waiting to hear what you have to say, innately respect this. You get to set the ground rules early on. If I know I’m going to face a barrage of questions about the subject of my speech – and I know I have already put work into leading the audience to where I found the correct answers – then I start my speech by telling them:
“I’m going to lead you through the process that led to this particular design. I know you’re going to have questions, so I ask you to wait until the end, by which time I hope that I’ll have answered them”.
If I don’t want people taking notes, I tell them ahead of time
“I’ve put down all the details in a handout we’ll pass out after the presentation, so there is no need to take notes. You’ve all got my email address in case there are any details you want to clarify later”
But this is’t the only control you have. On stage you have the right to speak. You have the right to express your ideas. You don’t have to think about what the next guy is going to say, or worry about making yourself heard. You may be talking – but you have been given the platform, and the time to prepare your thoughts into finely honed, well polished perfection. You don’t often get this chance – an opportunity to express yourself and your ideas safely. Normally if you want to get an extravert to hear you (which requires talking to them… extraverts don’t like to hole themselves away and read like you or I might), you’re fighting against your natural instincts. When you are on stage, it is your once chance to be yourself.
You Are An Actor
Lots of actors are introverts. This shocks many people, but it never shocked me. I always knew I was an actor. Not a stage actor, mind you, nor was I a big star of hollywood movies, yet I acted every day and a good number of people found the character I portrayed believable.
I am not my body. I am not the person people outside know as Ben. I’m an introvert – my life is an interior one – the person I am lives inside my head, this is where I enjoy playing with ideas, thinking, creating, learning and relaxing. Outside my head, the ‘real world’ is a foreign place, but its a place I have learned to live in and interact with.
But I never feel anyone in the real world has met the real me, the whole me.
They meet the character I portray.
And I’ve grown to be a damn good actor.
I play a number of roles – Work Ben – the guy I am in the office, Home Ben – the loving husband and deep thinker, and Social Ben who enjoys a few pints and bullshitting with a select group of cose friends.
When I step onto the stage, I’ve learned to play a different character. My on stage character is a lot like me – his voice is slightly different – he uses more gestures and holds stronger, more confident beliefs about himself. I’ve started to call him ‘Presentation Ben’ because I’ve realised that is the act I put on when I speak.
All the tricks we as introverts have used to get by in the real world, we can use on stage. While an extravert goes on stage and tries to be themselves, we have the option of going on stage and portraying a skilled and brilliant presenter.
Your motivation is to convey your message. The houselights are dimmed, ad you hear your cue. Its time for your scene. Break a leg.