Carl Jung’s 1921 introduction of the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” heavily influenced the way we understand and talk about personality types. The most simple way to explain it is that extroverts get energy from outside sources (social interactions, conversations, etc.). On the other hand, introverts get their energy from internal sources (time spent alone, deep thought, etc.). However, it’s important to note that it is better to view extroversion and introversion as a spectrum with a vast number of possibilities rather than two broad and distinct categories.
If you aren’t sure where you fall on the extroversion-introversion spectrum, it might best for you to start by taking a free test online, like this one. It’s helpful to understand more about how your energy is directed. That way, you can approach public speaking opportunities with greater self-awareness.
Today we’ll share some reminders for public speakers who are introverts. And on Friday, we’ll do the same thing for extroverts.
Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Simon Sinek all have a least these two things in common. First, they were/are talented public speakers. Second, they were/are introverts. Don’t fall prey to the misconception that introverts can’t be great public speakers. Because they can be. You can be!
You might find it encouraging that public speaking is often not as scary for introverts as other types of communication settings. That’s because with public speaking, you’ve practiced, you have a script, and you pretty much know what is going to happen. That control over the situation makes a presentation less scary than things like parties in which you don’t have the same amount of control over the communication and setting.
One thing that is hard for introverts is the delivery stage of presenting. They may love the research and writing and planning portions, but when it comes time to perform, they don’t like having all eyes on them. Because they prefer one-on-one conversations to large gatherings, introverts might tend to have more reserved delivery styles. That means it might take some intentional effort and training for introverts to learn to increase their volume, use more facial expressions, and employ hand gestures during presentations.
Research has shown that introverts are wired to respond more heavily to facial expressions and emotions. Think of it this way, when an introvert gives a presentation and sees audience members responding with different facial expressions, it creates noise in his brain. Uncomfortable noise. The research showed that extroverts have minimal arousal to this type of external stimuli. But introverts take those nonverbal cues at full force and full volume. That’s why social situations are often so exhausting for introverts. They are processing all of the incoming stimuli much more heavily.
When an extrovert gives a presentation, he or she will probably experience a “high” from the social situation. However, when an introvert gives a presentation, he or she may be more likely to experience what we would call a “crash.” The extra energy an introvert extends for a performance can be severely draining. So if you are an introvert, you should schedule some downtime following your presentation. That way you’ll have a chance to reflect and recharge. And don’t mistake your tiredness or low energy for negative emotions. Watch your self-talk following your presentation. “That was tough” is different than “that was bad.”
Being an introvert is not an excuse to avoid public speaking. Some of the best public speakers throughout history were introverts. But knowing the unique way social situations and communication affects you as an introvert can help you be prepared to be the very best introverted public speaker you can be. And if you’re an extrovert, check back on Friday for some reminders for your side of the spectrum.
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