As a micro business owner, you are the ambassador of your brand, and chances are if you want to be successful, you’re going to have to stand behind a podium or two in your career. But if you are an introvert, and the very thought of speaking to a group of people makes you want to hide, what should you do? In truth, people who are fantastic public speakers are not super human, they simply work hard and know how to emphasize what they already do well. You can do this, too!
1. Preparation is key. Spend time putting your speech together so that it flows logically and is made more vibrant with stories, examples, and props, such as images. For inspiration, try watching other great, yet relatable, speakers on video. You may even want to read the transcripts to see how they crafted their speeches. When it’s all done, practice saying your speech out loud until you can give it over fluidly and comfortably.
2. Accentuate the positive. Get in touch with your strengths and weaknesses as a public speaker. Don’t try to change yourself or be something you’re not. Focus on what you do best- whether you have a great sense of humor, or you’re a good story teller, or you know how clearly break down and explain complex ideas.
3. Invest in your audience. Think about what your audience wants to hear. What problem do they hope to solve? What hopes do they have? Give them what they want and need. You’re audience needs to have a reason to listen. In your opening remarks strive to relate to them and focus on relaying not just your message, but the reasons why they need and should want to know about it.
4. Get in touch with your on-stage persona. No matter how you slice it, public speaking is a performance. Even if acting is not something that comes naturally to you, you should try to get in touch with your on-stage persona. In the process, you may discover a more extroverted part of yourself that you didn’t know was there, and the whole experience can end up feeling liberating and exhilarating instead of anxiety-ridden.
5. Get comfortable with the environment. Check out the location where you will be speaking before the event happens. It will help you to feel more comfortable and secure when the big day arrives. Another suggestion would be to plant a few supportive friends or family members in the audience who can throw you an encouraging look or two as you are presenting. Just realize that you may get so caught up in the speech that you may not actually see them! Still, it could be a comfort to have them there.
6. Pay attention to your appearance. Be sure not to overlook a key confidence booster on the day of your speech: your attire. Think about how great you feel when you’re groomed and crisp in your favorite tailored outfit; when you look great, you feel great. On the other hand, if causal dress is allowed, maybe that will make you feel more comfortable and engaging. Audiences will initially judge you based solely on your appearance, so make an effort to dress in a way that conveys the messages you want to.
7. Start with a smile. Research has shown that the act of smiling- even artificially- can actually make a person feel more happy and at ease. So, put a big smile on your face when you begin speaking. Many people in the audience will probably smile back at you, too. This will make you feel relaxed, confident, and connected.
8. Start off with a story. A story is a great way to get your speech going. Not only does it have the potential to peak initial interest, but it can also help set your audience in time, place and mood. Emotions are the touchstones to speech success, so tug on a string of feelings to get your audience invested early on. Also, wrapping up your speech with an afterthought on your opening story is a nice way to bring the experience around full circle while providing a satisfying close for your audience.
9. Let others do the talking. Keep the communicative theme going and consider asking questions directly to your audience. Not only will asking questions to the crowd get you some active participants, but it will help ease any nerves you have by sharing the spotlight. If time allows for it, consider preparing a role-play scenario that, through audience participation, could exemplify one of your points in real time.
10. Schedule some down time. Public speaking can be a serious energy drain especially if you are an introvert. So one of the most important public speaking tips for introverts is to make sure you’ve got some alone time scheduled both before and after an event that will allow you to recharge and process the experience.
Have some public speaking tips for introverts of your own? Share it with us in the comments below.
Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances.