An edited and revised book on public speaking for introverts based on the articles from this site
Introverts Have A Head Start When It Comes To Public Speaking
Imagine two people, each are due to give an important presentation in a day’s time. One is an introvert, the other an extravert.
The extravert looks forward to the presentation – he enjoys talking, and meeting with the crowd of people afterwards is something he loves. He likes to be the centre of attention, and by being the presenter can be sure that there will be a throng ready to engage with him and discuss the ideas they have – related, or unrelated, it doesn’t matter.
The introvert would really rather the presentation was over. She knows that she is good at presenting, but also understands that the room is going to contain quite a lot of people – people she might like to talk to – on occasion – one two one, but handling them all at once is something she would rather avoid.
One of these people is happy right now. And it isn’t the extravert.
Prior to a presentation, everyone needs to prepare. Introverts know this. Extraverts – if they don’t know this, soon find it out after one or two of their presentations are received luke-warmly. And so in the days and hours prior to a presentation both the introvert and extravert have to put the presentation together. This combines both determining what they are going to say and how they are going to say it, and putting together a slide deck with sufficient pizzazz to wow the crowd.
Writing is a solitary activity.
And so, when the introvert and the extravert set out to prepare their presentations, they have very different strategies. The introvert can take themselves away to a quiet room, and begin the process of honing their ideas – first shaping them int heir heads, then getting them down onto paper, then finally building a presentation around them that they are happy meets all of their goals. They can do all of this alone, without needing any assistance (Assuming they know – or have access to – all the information necessary for the presentation). Moreover, this is the sort of environment where an introvert thrives – reading, researching, creating and constructing ideas and texts alone.
The extravert stumbles at the beginning – what should the presentation be about? The first thought is to ask someone else – but if they are busy, then the extravert has to push on. He will have ideas – many of them will be good ideas, but there is a nagging doubt at the back of his mind “What will other people think of this”. The extravert finds this uncomfortable – just as the presence of people drains the introvert, the extravert is drained by this sort of uncertainly. eventually, the lack of stimulation is too much, and the extravert is forced to leave his preparation and go out to talk to somebody. This process repeats, with the extravert less and less wanting to return to his office to carry on with the planning. Eventually, he breaks down – hammers out a rough idea and says “Thats good enough – I’m good at talking, I can wing it from here”
As the introvert passes by the extravert’s office, she sees him leaving with the boys for the office football game. He doesn’t look like there is a problem in the world bothering him – indeed, there isn’t, he is back with people. Tomorrow’s presentation will be however it turns out to be. The introvert knows, however, exactly how her presentation will be. She can’t be sure of the outcome, but she is prepared. Totally prepared. She has followed a set of rules she discovered years ago, and has developed for herself ever since. She knows they work, and she knows hy they work.
There may be a crown of people tomorrow, but they don’t phase her. She is prepared – this is no longer down to her social skills, but to how good her preparation has been.
For the introvert presenter, there is nothing more important than preparation – it lets you put together all the hard parts of communication without anybody looking at you. it lets you shape ideas in your own time and your own space. Spend as much time as you can on the preparation, and the presentation will take care of itself. Indeed, some introverts – myself included – now find extraverts coming to them asking for help with presentation prep, because the extravert’s know that the introvert can give them a finished product better than they could construct on their own. Meanwhile the introvert gets to be the thought leader – and to dot he sort of work that they – that I - love most.
To prepare the perfect presentation, I generally follow a system which I have developed as a result of reading round on the subject, watching others present and experimenting in both my presentations – and the presentations I have provided to extraverts. In the following articles, I will describe my system, and explain why it works so well for me.