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Kay Heald

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Developing your public speaking: a toolkit for introverted trainers


Many people, not least trainers, are affected by a fear of public speaking, but learning how to overcome this and communicate confidently and authentically can boost both your confidence and your business. 

Throughout our early education, few of us are actually taught or encouraged to practice public speaking skills. For those who are naturally more introverted, this means it is relatively easy to sidestep any early opportunities and go for years without ever having to speak in public. 

As we grow older, a fear of exposure and failure can easily take hold and even cause speech anxiety, known as ‘glossophobia’. However public speaking is a skill that is strengthened through practice, so if you want to be better at it, you need to do more speaking.

There are lots of similarities between the skill sets for delivering training and mastering public speaking, including thorough planning and good subject knowledge. 

Unfortunately, the mind can become a powerful block. The introverted thinker, known for their ordered thoughts and perfectionist ideals, can easily sabotage themselves into thinking it is something they just can’t do and that public speaking is an ‘off-limits’ activity.

The introversion versus extroversion debate

The terms ‘introversion’ and ‘extroversion’ are often misused to distinguish between shy and more outgoing personalities. 

More accurately, the Jungian and Myers-Briggs definitions define introversion and extroversion as existing on an energy spectrum to help describe the different and complicated ways that people respond to the world. 

Extroverts are often energised when surrounded by other people, whereas introverts, are energised in their own company.

Scientific studies now show that there are key differences in the brain structure and chemistry of those with introverted and extroverted preferences, but there is still some debate as to whether this is the cause or effect of either tendencies.

The art of good public speaking is about creating your own unique style based on your blend of preparation and delivery. 

Irrespective of the cause, society remains somewhat judgmental, giving an elevated status to extroversion, linking it to strength and popularity. 

In contrast, introversion is generally viewed more negatively, as something to combat or cure. 

In reality, one type is no better or worse than the other, and it’s possible to be an equally accomplished trainer and public speaker wherever you are on the spectrum. World famous introverted speakers include the late Nelson Mandela, J.K. Rowling and Barack Obama.

Why do introverts need to learn to speak in public?

In our modern, fast-paced and visual world, clear and effective communication has never been more important. 

Publicising, promoting and selling ourselves - whether to external clients or within our own organisations - can no longer be achieved through just a few well-written emails or adverts. 

The trainer who is comfortable crossing different media and who can talk with clarity and confidence to live audiences as well as via vlogs, Skype or Instagram, will have a distinct advantage over those who prefer to ‘stick to what they know’.

What is a public speaking toolkit?

There is no such thing as a ‘natural born’ public speaker and there is no ‘single best way’ of speaking in public. The art of good public speaking is about creating your own unique style based on your blend of preparation and delivery. 

Developing a personalised ‘toolkit’ of ideas and resources can be particularly helpful to the introverted trainer, helping them channel their existing skills, and build new ones, into becoming a more confident public speaker. 

This is not about becoming more extrovert, but rather finding a way to harness aspects of your personality, which may include introversion, to find your own public speaking voice. 

What should go into a public speaking toolkit?

1. The right preparation

Similar to any training engagement, preparation is of paramount importance. 

Just as delegates will be oblivious to the preparation that has gone into their workshop, the same is true of audiences listening to a speech. However, giving adequate time to creating a speech structure with a clear purpose or message is essential. This is true whether you are giving a TED talk or recording a 60 second promo video.

This process is particularly important for the more introverted presenter, as the very process of planning and preparing a talk or presentation creates a framework that helps build confidence.

Preparation extends to understanding the intended audience, their expectations and needs, as well as clarifying timings – activities with which trainers are already very familiar.

2. The right you

Working against the protective blocks and hang-ups of the introverted brain can take time, but reframing ‘I can’t’ do this speech’ to ‘I want to share my message with this audience’ makes a huge difference to the way a presentation is prepared and delivered.

It’s also important to stay true to oneself, so that the delivery is genuine and authentic. 

A quick-fix approach to perfecting speaking in public is rarely effective for introverts, as they are naturally critical and can become disheartened if their expectations are not carefully managed over a longer timeframe.

Introversion can make presenters reluctant to share too much of themselves, in case they are embarrassed or exposed. However, learning to share personal stories not only makes speeches more engaging for the audience, but far easier for the presenter to remember too.

3. The right practice

It is practice that will give the introverted presenter the most confidence and help combat the desire to escape from a position of perceived vulnerability and danger. 

The more comfortable they are with the content and the delivery, the more effective their speech. This process also gives valuable opportunities to reflect and refine messages, as well as experiment with different presentation techniques, from vocal variety and diaphragm breathing to storytelling.

The best type of practice occurs when it can be shared with others in a supportive and non-judgmental way, whether that is rehearsing in front of friends and colleagues, or as part of a supportive public speaking group.

4. The right learning experience

Just as delivering training takes time to learn, the same is true of public speaking. 

A quick-fix approach to perfecting speaking in public is rarely effective for introverts, as they are naturally critical and can become disheartened if their expectations are not carefully managed over a longer timeframe.

Seeking out regular and constructive feedback from others is always extremely valuable too, as it is very difficult to try and objectively assess your own talk or presentation.

5. The right energy 

Public speaking can be incredibly rewarding, regardless of personality type, but after a successful speech, even the most experienced introverted public speaker experiences an energy slump and needs to seek out solitude and/or quality time away from others to re-energise themselves.

Factoring in ‘down-time’ is as important for an introverted presenter as preparation and practice.

Developing a public speaking toolkit is a practical way to provide the introverted trainer with the scaffolding and support they need to nurture and develop different skills and techniques, whether they are headlining at a training conference, or delivering their first ‘Talks at Google’. Give it a try today!

Want more tips and advice on public speaking? Read Authenticity: How to be genuine when you present.

3 Responses

  1. Thank you for this article.
    Thank you for this article. My local Toastmasters provides a fantastic learning environment and opportunity to develop my speaking skills and, perhaps surprisingly, many of them do not fit into the stereotypical gregarious type that you might expect at such events. People who are more introverted find themselves in a safe space there to learn.

  2. There is nothing to be
    There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are an introvert. Some of the greatest minds and speakers in history have been one. I am proudly one and tell all that I overcame my fears to become a pro broadcaster and now teach others to reach their speaking goals. Visit my link below to learn how I can help introverts and others communicate fully to Unleash The Power Of Your Voice.
    Bill Patti–

  3. Interesting, though let down
    Interesting, though let down a bit by an image which showed “an introvert” when the text is saying that introversion and shyness aren’t the same thing.
    I’m an introvert, and in some ways I think we fit better for public speaking than extroverts. If I speak for myself: less bothered about what others think, more on how I assess myself; I get a chance to be heard on stage; I like not being in the mass of people but separate; most of speaking is solo preparation – I like that; the time I spend in public counts.
    Certainly I did not initially like being vulnerable, though again, I think that can be an advantage – no one ever knows I’m nervous so are not disrupted by my anxiety! 🙂


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