Introverts often get a bad rap as speakers. When most people think of introverts, they picture timid, quiet speakers who hide behind podiums and can’t wait to get offstage.
But this impression is wrong.
Not only can introverts speak just as well as extroverts, but sometimes they can even speak better.
Busting the myth that only extroverts make good speakers
Extroverts excel at speaking on the fly and winging things. They often minimize preparation since they know they can wing it on stage. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to prepare as much as possible. We make sure we know our speech like the back of our hand. We prepare for the worst just in case.
Introverts also usually dislike being the center of attention. While extroverts sometimes use presentations as thinly veiled excuses to brag, introverts prefer to make their topic and content the star of the show. This tends to result in higher quality presentations.
I don’t mean to diminish the potential of extroverts as speakers — many of the greatest speakers of all time were extroverts. However, many of them were introverts also, and introverts have their own strengths to lean on when it comes to speaking. (Here’s a great article on why introverts make the best speakers.)
Let’s look at seven unconventional speaking tips for introverts:
1. Give yourself a personal retreat leading up to the presentation. On the day of the presentation, spend as much time as possible on your own. The goal is to make sure your energy levels are as high as possible when you actually step onstage. Personally, I love to go on walks in nature, read books, or just work quietly on my own. You’ll find that after just a few hours of quiet rejuvenation, you are bursting with energy that you can unleash onstage.
2. Get to the venue early and develop a sense of ownership over the space. Having a sense of ownership and comfort in the speaking venue gives you a tremendous boost of confidence. Arrive at the location before anyone else and spend time getting to know it. Pretend that it belongs to you. You’ll end up feeling much more relaxed on stage.
You can actually take this sense of ownership one step further by using a quirky trick: take a few tiny items that belong to you and scatter them throughout the room. This can be as simple as placing four quarters in each corner of the room, or it could mean hiding your favorite stuffed animal in it’s own seat at the back of the room. This helps you establish a tangible sense of authority and ownership over the space.
3. Create a pre-game playlist, then get in the zone. Create a playlist with songs you know will get you feeling ready to give a killer presentation. Once you’ve arrived at the space early, put on your headphones and start jamming out.
If you’re feeling bold, take it one step further by dancing around and singing out loud. There are few better ways to get in a fantastic mood than dancing to your favorite song. If the room isn’t empty, find somewhere private where you can unleash your inner karaoke champion. This is definitely unconventional, but some of the best speakers in the world do it, and it is an incredible way to get your energy pumped up.
4. Create your success beforehand. Spend five to ten minutes with your eyes closed, imagining yourself speaking. See the audience laugh and smile. Feel the energy and enthusiasm in the room. Then, imagine yourself after the presentation is done, beaming with happiness. Remember how good it felt to speak in front of all those people. This gives your mind a mental blueprint to follow and gets you into the right mental state to deliver a killer pitch or presentation.
5. Warm up your voice. Most people step on stage without taking any time to warm up their voice. As a result, their voice is often soft and quiet, or cracks and quivers as they speak. A quick vocal warm-up can do wonders for your voice and make sure that you sound powerful and composed on stage. For a top notch vocal warm-up that will take only a minute or two to do, see this TED talk (skip to 7:42).
6. Plan your hand gestures. Hand gestures are crucial if you want to be an engaging speaker. Here are the basics of hand gestures: keep your hands relatively close to your body, be deliberate and purposeful with your movements, and keep your palms upward most of the time to convey openness.
When you practice your speech, plan out what hand gestures to make at which points. This will ensure that everything looks smooth and natural onstage — you won’t even have to think. For a list of effective hand gestures, see this article by Vanessa Van Edwards of Science of People.
7. Practice your vocal expression. According to one widely reported study, the tone and expression of your voice make up 38% of your communication. This means that your vocal expression can have a huge impact on how your pitch or presentation is received. Here are a few tips:
- Drop your voice at the end of your sentences whenever you make an important point.
- Vary the volume of your voice and the speed of your words.
- Plan out your vocal expression ahead of time and then record yourself speaking so you can tweak and improve it. For great examples of vocal expression, watch some videos of Gary Vaynerchuk or Steve Jobs.
You’ll notice that all these tips are things to do before you even get onstage. This may seem unusual — shouldn’t speaking advice tell you what to do onstage? But the truth is, you shouldn’t be thinking about much when you are onstage. If you are properly warmed up for your pitch or presentation, it will come naturally. All you have to do is prepare ahead of time.
Go blow your audience’s mind
Follow these tips and you will blow away your audience with your next pitch or presentation. It will take a little bit of work up front, but the payoff is well worth it — imagine all the smiles on the faces of your listeners as you speak, the applause when you finish, and the warm glow of confidence you feel as you stand in front of the audience.
If you want to learn the unconventional and highly effective step-by-step system that I put together to ensure that you nail every business pitch for the rest of your life, you can download my free guide Speak Like Steve Jobs, The Introvert’s Secret Guide to Nailing Your Next Business Pitch by clicking here.
Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.
Read this: Introverts’ top 3 career challenges