Why Introverts Make Excellent Public Speakers
In 1995 I took my very first speech class (in high school), because I needed an elective. The truth is, I was dreading it! I’m a hardcore introvert and my preferred natural state is at home and not talking to anyone, much less an audience. But that class changed my life forever, and it showed me public speaking isn’t just something introverts can learn to do; it’s something we can master! If you’re currently an introvert reading this from the safety and comfort of your couch, then I’m here to show you why you can become the public speaker you’ve always wanted to be.
Introverts are great at listening
The best speakers are constantly considering what their audience needs. After all, why use their valuable time for your own self-gratification? Being a great public speaker is all about the audience, and that requires being an active listener. Active listening requires empathy, patience, and a genuine interest in the other person; introverts excel at this because they tend to cultivate more one-on-one relationships than building friend groups or entourages. Taking the time to be quiet, and carefully considering the other person (or the audience), is a master-level trait of the best public speakers.
Introverts think differently about how to organize information
Have you ever watched an energetic, motivated, enthusiastic speaker, only to not have a clue what they were talking about by the end of their speech? Sometimes a speaker’s enthusiasm for their topic interferes with their ability to deliver a clear, coherent message. Because introverts spend more time in quiet contemplation, they often have a more linear way of thinking about and organizing information. This can be an invaluable asset to anyone who trains, teaches, or speaks for a living. It's a bonus that introverts tend to be quite comfortable with sitting and quietly working on something independently for any length of time.
Introverts tend to communicate with a specific purpose
I mean, if we’re going to talk to someone, it better be really important, right? Of course I’m joking about some of the more extreme stereotypes of introverts, but I know that I don’t do well with small talk, pointless conversations, or aimless rambling. I like to dive right in to the important stuff, and accomplish something. And it has served me well as both a speaker and a trainer. Because I value meaningful connections and serving a deeper purpose (and because the rest makes me uncomfortable), I carefully choose my words, which has served me well as a speaker. This is true for most introverts, and it’s an asset they can tap into for presenting.
Introverts thrive in situations where they don’t have to talk over anyone else
My idea of a nightmare is being on a panel where there are 4-5 other people all loudly talking over each other trying to be heard. Pretty much the standard cable news or daytime talk show format, really. It’s right up there with being in any situation (parties, unmoderated group discussions, etc.) where multiple people are all trying to contribute and make their voices heard at the same time. This typically ends up being a cacophony where no one heard anything anyone was saying. But you know what’s not like that? Being on stage, giving a presentation where I have the floor and can carefully think about what I need to say to give as much value as possible to this audience. And no one is shouting over me. Because as an introvert, when that does happen, I tend to shut down and not say anything at all.
It’s a common fallacy that introverts never want to interact with any other human beings. The truth is, we just recharge in quiet solitude versus pulling energy from a big crowd or group. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, learning how to use your special skills, authenticity, and energy to command the stage and connect with the audience will make you an excellent public speaker.