An edited and revised book on public speaking for introverts based on the articles from this site
Coming Back To Earth
Introverts are more easily stimulated than extraverts, thats why social activities are so tiring, we have to manage so much more stimulation and excitement than extraverts. Public speaking of any kind is therefore likely to leave most introverts in a state of hyper-stimulation. When I feel this, I feel somewhat detached from reality, with adrenaline flowing and everything feeling very fast and very big.
It is a tiring state – and while it seems to be a valuable state when it comes to speaking in public, it isn’t a state I would want to stay in for too long following a presentation – I worry it would lead to me making snap decisions and using poor judgement. Moreover, the longer I spend being hyper stimulated, the longer it takes me to come down, and the more tired I get.
So following a presentation, and perhaps spoken to all the people I need to speak to afterwards (and perhaps got their contact details, so I can follow up with them later), I like to take myself somewhere quiet – where I’m not going to be found. A toilet cubical is a very good choice, as is your car (though I wouldn’t recommend driving straight away). What you want to do is calm down, so I suggest the following exercises:
Mindfulness – when preparing to speak, I suggested paying attention to your body, and everything it was feeling. Not trying to suppress, or deny any feeling, but just noticing it, and noticing the physical affects it is having on you. Also notice the other sensations you are feeling (which can include the feeling of the toilet seat underneath you, and the smell of the bleach blocks in the urinals if you are hiding out in a WC). This is a very useful first thing to do to calm down, when you’re heard is beating, or your brain is rushing too fast because of how stimulated you are.
Breathing. Once you have taken control of yourself through mindfulness, slow breathing is very calming. Again, be mindful of your breathing, feeling the sensation (it can be shockingly pleasurable – even sensual). Breath in for a count of three, hold your breath for a count of three, then breath out for a count of three, and repeat for as long as you need.
Centre yourself. Imagine all the physical feelings of nervousness and stimulation flowing down from your head, through your body and out of your feet. If you need a bit of help doing this, stroke yourself from your face, down your chest, over your stomach and down your legs to you feet, imagining the feeling is a black liquid, washing all your stresses away.
Once you’re done with this, and calm, go and find something to eat and drink. You may well have dehydrated yourself slightly and you’ve certainly used up a decent amount of energy (especially if you’ve been jumping all over the stage, like I recommend), so if you have to treat yourself to a chocolate bar, feel free. You deserve it. Some people like to treat eating as another grounding ritual – it is certainly worth eating slowly and mindfully rather than just gulping it down to quench any emotional eating urge you may have.
Finally, go and find somewhere quiet to be, and do something non-stressful which doesn’t involve people for an hour or two. Something you enjoy is best, alone. Reading, perhaps writing or listening to another speaker, but not communicating.
Recovering from presenting can be hard for an introvert – and this isn’t unusual. Because of this, I would seriously suggest that it is a bad idea to have too many speaking engagements on the same day. If you do, you want to keep them next to one another with no gap, so you don’t hit the second speech while you are on the way down from the hyper-stimulation of the first.