Do you get cold sweats just thinking about giving a presentation? Does your face turn red whenever you have to speak in public? Worry no more!
Here are some useful tips for introverts who think the prospect of public speaking is beyond embarrassing. And hey, if you're not an introvert, this advice might just give you an added confidence boost!
1. You don't have to be an extrovert
This point is the most important to understand. When you think of an effective public speaker, you might think of someone who is charismatic, a good storyteller and can hold the room’s attention.
This is all true but there is no reason to think that they must be extroverts because of these traits, even though this might appear to be the case.
Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell said: “Speaking is not an act of extroversion, people think it is. It has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted!”
Even if you’re shy and consider yourself an introvert, this in no way means you can’t be an awesome public speaker.
No matter if it’s a small meeting or a TED talk, preparation is key to presenting.
You need to understand what you’re talking about. Whether you're pitching your business or highlighting research, you should know the ins and outs of your topic and anticipate any questions your audience could ask.
Regularly practice your speaking skills when you can. Family, friends, colleagues, your dog, are all suitable for practising your speaking. Ok maybe not the dog, but you might find that a good first audience…
Want to rehearse presenting but lacking a theme? Pick a random topic and explain it to a friend. It could be as simple as explaining how tennis is played.
Start by articulating the rules and requirements and keep things simple. After becoming more competent with the basics you can add some colour!
The point is to ground yourself before adding the juicy points. And with everything, the more you rehearse, the more confident you will feel!
3. Know your audience
This is said time and time again in the PR world. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Know who you're presenting to.
Does the audience already understand your topic? Are they a panel of experts? Are you in front of investors? Think about how you should target the room and what you want to get out of being heard.
Put the audience first, and you're own objectives second! That way, you'll reap a much better reward.
4. Think Differently - What's the worst that can happen?
When we're faced with a room full of people it's easy to think of the worst case scenario - but anxiety (if it hits you) comes up with scenarios that if we play the odds, will just not happen.
- You won't somehow be naked halfway through
- It's unlikely that you'll fall on your face
- And if you've been rehearsing and you're the expert, you will not forget what you're doing!
When you are the speaker, you are in power.
- You've rehearsed.
- You know your topic.
- You're an expert.
And the absolute blessing? If something does go wrong or you forget something - YOU are the only one who knows that! To everyone else in the room, you'll have done a great job.
Overall, always try to remain calm (we know - it's hard!). Breathing is key...in...and...out...slowly.
But one thing is crucial to remember, there's a reason you're on that stage, and if that reason is key for you - well then buddy, you got this!!!