You Must Be An Extrovert To Speak

I’ll say from the outset, that that is wrong – that you must be an extrovert to speak in front of an audience. Even though I am confident on the stage and in groups, I am an introvert – and shortly I will explain what that actually means.

Even an introvert can do this!
Even an introvert can do this!

I saw a couple of other articles on this topic, one related to personal branding, and another related to socialising, and….

… made me realize how important it is to address this with regards to speaking.

Introverts can let that label be an excuse that stops them from speaking, when in fact many speakers I know, including high-energy ra-ra speakers, are in fact introverts.

Introvert/extrovert has nothing to do with your ability to socialize or be seen in the public eye.

It’s a common myth, and it probably doesn’t help that Merriam-Webster defines an introvert as a shy person, who doesn’t find it easy to talk to other people.

Let’s go to Carl Jung, who first popularized the terms and defines introversion as “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.”

Whereas extroversion is “predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”. (Source, Wikipedia)

The difference is commonly expressed as where one draws energy from

  • Internally (requiring time alone) or
  • Externally (requiring time with others).

Nothing to do with being shy – though they can go hand in hand simply by habit and lack of desire to be social.

Ok, so what does that mean for you and speaking?

If you are an introvert, I’m sorry, you no longer have that as an excuse not to speak.  You can go out and speak and be in groups, as long as you make the necessary time for yourself to re-energize.

The benefit of being an introvert, is that by definition you do reflect and you most likely will think before you speak – not such a bad thing!  I would suggest that most thought-leaders are introverts.

Of course, the more introverted you are, the more time alone you will need.

It’s like anything, understand your needs and satisfy them – but do not use them as an excuse to stop you from doing things that might help you grow.

Speaking is a way to overcome fears and expand your self-expression.  Many people will go through speaker training simply for the personal growth.  Even if you never intend to speak to a large group, it’s nice to know that you could if asked to, or put on the spot.

It is also a terrific way to overcome any shyness.  I know many speakers that actually feel  more comfortable on a stage, then they do speaking in a networking function or 1-to 1…..I’m one of them, though I’ve worked on improving communication in all kinds of situations and environment.

The trick is a desire to improve, to expand your capabilities and to know your personal WHY for doing something different.

I would love to hear your comments – are you an introvert or extrovert and how that does that show up in your life?

Still not convinced – check out this talk on the Power of Introverts on TED  with over 5million views.