How Introverts Become Great Presenters

You’d never know it, but many CEOs, other leading business speakers and even comedians are introverts.  Presenting or speaking in public is a skill they’ve cultivated rather than something they’d naturally choose to do.

If you are more of an introvert or manage those who are, Susan Cain’s book ‘Quiet. The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking’ is really worth a read.

It reveals some useful insights into techniques that successful introverts use to make speaking in public easier and more authentic:

  • Introverts can act ‘out of character’ and are very capable of being more extrovert for the sake of work they consider important, people they love or anything they value highly.  So identify what is important.  It might be an important piece of work or a goal.
  • Being bounced into speaking ‘off the cuff’ or informally can be a real pressure.  Many introverts work hard on analysing the audience and even preparing a few useful anecdotes on cards to drop into the conversation.
  • Many introverts are ‘highly reactive’ that is they are much more aware and sensitive to what is going on in the audience.  This can be a blessing as they can react to the audience in the moment.  It can also be a curse if it puts them off their stride.  The key is planning and analysis.  First of all, learn to be in the right mindset by reframing the situation to be less threatening.  Then work out the audience, be clear on your messaging, create a strong presentation you really like and rehearse.

Introverts bring a reflective, considered view and expertise that needs to be heard.  From time to time this requires a change of style to win the attention of extroverts.  And it requires the extroverts to listen harder to people who take a quieter approach.

We do a great deal of work with scientists, engineers and doctors who often benefit from a presentation course geared to the specific strengths and requirements of introverts.  We also work with a lot of extroverts who have to adapt their approach to a more reflective audience.  If you’d like to know more please do contact us.

The Confidence Competence Effect

I gave a keynote talk on building confidence last week and there was a great deal of interest in the Confidence Competence Effect.

A number of research studies have shown that many people make the assumption that if you are confident you are also more competent.

This is extremely relevant if you want your ideas to be heard or be promoted but find it hard to communicate in a confident way.  Equally, if you are hiring people it’s easy to make the wrong decision and miss out on really great talent.

The Royal Statistical Society published an article on one piece of research done by Ben Smith and Jadrian Wooten from The School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University.  They used sports pundits in their research (2013) tracking responses using Twitter followership to ensure a statistically valid sample with a measurable end goal.

Essentially, it showed that the public appears to value confidence heavily and place a much smaller, although still positive, emphasis on accuracy.

Predicting every baseball game accurately would only result in a 3.5% increase in followership.  Being consistently confident by contrast would result in an almost 17% increase.  They believe it may be that humans dislike uncertainty and are prepared to trade off accuracy.

I’d like to say the confidence competence effect doesn’t apply to the highly technical or reflective industries we work with.

But we see that top medical consultants are simply not heard at conference if they lack confidence.  Scientific teams are drowned out by their more outwardly confident peers in budget meetings and engineers fail to help the company understand insights vital for the company’s future.

For leaders, it’s important to look beyond the obvious.  And for those appearing less confident it’s a skill area worth acquiring.  You can find a way of doing this in your own authentic style.

We coach confidence as a routine part of all our work.  You can build the genuine foundations for confidence in situations you find challenging and you can ‘fake it to make it’ while you’re working on creating the real thing. Contact us to find out more.

If you are an introvert or an ambivert, an inspiring book to read is Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Just Can’t Stop Talking.  She is a successful lawyer, an introvert and has some great advice.