There’s an interesting book out called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.” In the book, author Susan Cain explains how today’s world overvalues extroverts and undervalues introverts.
And certainly extroverts get lots of credit for being natural speakers. But in my experience, introverts can be even better speakers than extroverts.
Introverts Leave their Egos at Home
I worked once with a highly extroverted insurance salesman. “I want to be like Tony Robbins,” he told me, referring to the self-help guru.
And certainly, this salesman had a big personality like Tony Robbins. Like Robbins, he would strut about the stage, preening and smiling.
But unlike Robbins, he was talking about insurance to business clients that simply wanted a more effective way to manage risk.
He seemed to think that public speaking was about making people laugh and telling stories. He didn’t realize that speaking isn’t about being fabulous. It’s about connecting with listeners and helping them.
Introverts are Happy to Make a Message Interactive
Because introverts aren’t interested in being the center of attention, they often are happy to execute the kind of interactive presentations that put the spotlight on the audience. These programs can be highly effective.
For example I worked with an introverted CPA who had to speak on the topic of how to structure a certain type of real estate deal. “I hate speaking,” she told me. “And this is going to be incredibly boring.”
But we found a nice solution that worked because she was willing to allow the audience to be the star.
Instead of giving a traditional speech, she created a hypothetical scenario around the kind of real estate deal that she wanted to discuss. At the beginning of her presentation, she passed out the scenario and asked them to read it.
Then she asked the audience a series of questions about how they would address the key issues raised by the scenario. To be sure, she made sure to give her point of view. But she spent just as much time listening to the points of view of the people in the audience.
She didn’t wow the audience with her oratorical skill. But everyone learned and had fun. More importantly, she built relationships.
Introverts Are Good Listeners
Yogi Berra said, “You can see a lot by just looking around.” Similarly, you can hear a lot by just listening. And quiet people tend to be good at listening, which can be a huge advantage as a speaker.
I worked once with an enormously successful executive at a large financial services company.
Contrary to my expectations, he was quite unassuming. When I first met him, he was wearing a wrinkled grey suit and a white shirt. He was the opposite of the “Rock Star” CEO.
I told him that I was surprised to find such a successful person to be so unassuming. When I asked him what was the secret to his success, he said, “I’m a very good listener.”
Prior to his presentations to his board of directors, he would always interview the key members to ensure that his message was on target.
As a result, his presentations always hit the mark. He quietly blew them away.
Speechworks is a communication and selling skills coaching firm. We teach professionals how to craft and deliver complex messages in a simple, persuasive manner. Since 1986, through workshops and one-on-one instruction, we have helped countless individuals become better presenters and communicators. You can reach us at 404.266.0888, email@example.com or on the web atwww.speechworks.net
Joey is the President of Speechworks, a communication and selling skills coaching firm. He has worked with thousands of professionals, helping them learn to communicate in a way that connects with clients and audiences. He is also the author of four books on communication skills: “15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations,” “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition,” “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers,” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.” He can be reached at 404-266-0888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Joey Asher Category: Practice Former UN Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young once told me a story about how he learned the importance of speaking without notes. As a minister in his early 20s, [...]