Are you wondering how you can give presentations when you’re an introvert? In this article, you’ll find four tips to help you become an inspiring speaker, without changing who you are.
I had something really exciting happen last weekend and that was getting the opportunity to present at Florida Blog Con. Believe it or not, presenting at a conference was the number one goal that I set for myself this year.
Presentations and introverts don’t mix
Now, if you are a fellow introvert, you may be thinking that I’m nuts. As a general rule, we don’t enjoy being in the presence of crowds, and we certainly don’t like talking in such situations.
You may already be familiar with the joke that that public speaking is the number one fear of most people. A fear ranked higher than death. So if the average person is afraid, how can you be expected to give presentations when you are an introvert?
And why the heck would I volunteer to put myself in such a position? And to go so far as to make it my number one goal?
I have a message that I want to share, and public speaking affords me the opportunity to reach more people. If you have something important to say, or a product or service to share, it’s time to do something about it. Here are four tips that you can use to get more confident in your presentation skills.
Introvert Presentation Tip #1: Write it out
One of the traits that introverts share is our uncanny ability to come up with perfect responses. Unfortunately, these stokes of brilliance don’t come until long after they are needed. We are experts in knowing what we should have said.
Being a deep thinker is a gift, and presentations are an excellent way to use that superpower. You may imagine that public speakers are a special breed of charismatic beings. Ones can who just stroll up to a stage and speak off the cuff. But the truth is, almost all presentations are scripted or at least outlined.
If you have an important message to share, take your sweet time and write it out. Edit it, revisit it and refine it until it’s to your liking. It’s a rare opportunity where you’ll get to say exactly what you wanted to say and at the right moment.
Introvert Presentation Tip #2: Practice in smaller settings
In looking back on my journey to landing a speaking role at Florida Blog Con, I can see that it started a long time ago, before I even realized that I wanted to become a presenter. You may remember a little app called Periscope, which was popular for a hot minute, around 2015. If you’re not familiar with the platform, it was essentially an earlier version of what Instagram Live and Facebook Live are today.
It was during this period that I first began speaking to an audience but on a small scale. I was awkward and uncomfortable, but it helped to know that most of the people who watched were close friends (and my mom). Ironically, I published one of those early Periscope recordings on my YouTube channel and it has more views than any other video. More proof that people don’t really care so much about perfection.
The ideal setting for presentations by introverts
Since 2015, it seems like our opportunities to present online have multiplied. If you’re interested in becoming a speaker, you don’t need to make your first presentation in a stadium. Start where you can feel safe and comfortable.
I recommend using Instagram Stories to become more confident in your speaking and presentation skills. You can start without even showing your face and then work your way up to speaking directly to the camera. Much like scripting your presentations, you can record your Instagram stories and edit them, or revise them before posting.
Once you begin feeling comfortable sharing recordings, you may want to consider hosting a live stream. From there you can work your way up to a webinar presentation. This is the exact path that I followed on my journey.
From there, I spoke at a few small online forums, on podcasts, including my own, and at some of my local Rising Tide Society meetings, before applying to speak at a conference.
The key to giving presentations when you are an introvert is to approach it in a way that feels natural to you. Nothing is scary when you ease your way in and get comfortable in a gradual manner. Take your time, and celebrate each milestone along the way.
Introvert Presentation Tip #3: Be yourself
When you do find yourself in a position to speak, whether it be from your phone, or up on stage, you should only be focused on two things: delivering your message and making an impact on your audience. This means that anything else is going to be a distraction, including trying to be someone who you are not.
It’s likely that when you start presenting, that people are going to show up for the information you’re giving, but the ones who stick around, and keep coming back will do so because they have a connection with you.
How have other introverts presented?
I’ve seen a lot of presentations where the speakers were outgoing and dynamic— and those were fantastic. But I’ve also watched ones where the presenter was quieter, a little bit more careful, more thoughtful— and those were the people that I felt more connected to because they were a lot like me.
I often talk about how much I was moved by Susan Cain’s TED Talk. It’s because she was willing to get up there and share in her way— a way that made me feel like I was understood.
The way to give presentations when you are an introvert is to be an introvert, unapologetically.
Take that pressure off of yourself so that you won’t need to remember how to act and just be yourself. You may not connect or hold the attention of everyone, but you will leave a lasting impression on the ones who most relate to you and your style. That’s where you make your impact.
Introvert Presentation Tip #4: Let your mission be greater than your fears
We think it’s about us. We think that people will be showing up to hear us speak just to judge us and point out our flaws, but it’s simply not the case. Our audience wants to learn something from us. They want to be moved and inspired to take action.
If you share in that goal, then it’s likely that you’re presenting on a topic that is important to you. A lot of people asked me if I was nervous before speaking at Florida Blog Con, and my honest answer was no. More than anything I was excited to share this information. Because I knew that it had the potential to change the lives of the people who were there, for the better.
My message was the star, I was just the vessel for communicating it. Any fear or resistance that you’re experiencing likely has little to do with your content and everything to do with your ego. “Shy people don’t speak up or lead,” was the lie I told myself for years.
How can you give presentations when you are an introvert? Cast aside your insecurities and redirect your energy into passion: excitement for the topic you are presenting, and the people whose lives you are impacting.
And now I want to hear from you! Do you have a message that you want to share? Is presenting at a conference on your list of goals? Please leave me a comment below to let me know which of these tips you’ll use to prepare for your next opportunity.