A class of their own: introvert presenters

Everyone can be a good speaker and presenter. Introverts particularly so
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Do you think good presenters are born?

If there is one thing I’ve learned, both as a ‘Toastmaster’ and in training presentation skills, it’s this:
we can all become good speakers and presenters.

And introverts particularly so!

I used to think of good presenters as outgoing personalities but not all good presenters are like that. In fact, audiences love to listen to people who are usually more quiet.

I think there are many reasons for this. Here are three that I can make out:

1. Quiet people don’t hide that they are vulnerable

It’s easy to get wrapped up about our own nervousness when we present. Of course, when we are overly stressed, it will distract. But the audience usually doesn’t mind seeing us a little nervous. On the contrary, people connect with us when they see that we are human and vulnerable.

2. Quiet people are not so full of themselves

As said, I used to think that A-type personalities are born-to-be presenters. But it’s a fine line: it’s good to be enthusiastic and energetic but if you come across as arrogant, we will not connect with you. As the former world champion of public speaking, Craig Valentine, says: “The audience doesn’t want you to be special but similar.” That’s an advantage quieter people have: they are not so full of themselves.

3. Quiet people have something to say

One of the reasons that quieter people are quiet is that they like to think longer and deeper. That’s why presentations are, in fact, a very good way for introverts to express themselves: they get (hopefully) uninterrupted time to develop and present their thoughts. And that’s what we, the audience, look forward to. We want to know what they have to say.

Susan Cain, who made it her mission to tell the world how much we need introverts, is herself a good example of the above principles in action.

It’s one of my favorite TED talks. Did you look at it? And wouldn’t you agree that the three principles are present here?

  1. She is a little nervous at the beginning, isn’t she?
  2. She he is certainly not arrogant. She’s endearing.
  3. And boy, she has something to say.

Her talk proves how quiet people can be good, even great presenters. Whether on the big TED-stage or on the smaller stage of a meeting room, a well developed message delivered in an endearing way…it’s a package that is hard to beat.

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