Public Speaking for Introverted and Shy People

Photo borrowed from Stars and Stripes Marketing

Photo borrowed from Stars and Stripes Marketing

It’s important to be a good public speaker if you aspire to be a professional in the field of public relations. Although public speaking is in the job description, some PR pros have anxiety when it comes to presenting and sharing their ideas.

When I started working towards my degree in public relations, I was confident in my abilities to write and work with others. But when faced with the task of speaking in front of a large group of people, my throat closes and I forget my words.

I’m an extrovert with introverted tendencies. Which I my mind, means that in most social situations I am excited or pleased to be interacting with others. This tends to be true when I am comfortable in my environment or meeting people one on one.

According to a guide to public speaking for introverted and shy people written by Jonathan Colman, If you’re shy, a big key to success is getting comfortable and intimate with your fears.

I make money by waiting tables and in order to make money, I’m required to talk to strangers. By waiting tables I’ve learned that the best way to get over something you aren’t comfortable with is to repeat the action over and over again. Every interaction is different, so instead talking to people at work. I began talking with them. Doing this led me to be more comfortable at work.

When it comes to presentations, I am a little less experienced. I avoid them until they’re inevitably assigned to me. Mary Gannon from Edelman wrote an article called “Communicate with Confidence: Five Ways to Become a Better Public Speaker”. If you suffer from shyness and introversion like me, here are some hands on tactics you can use to be more comfortable while presenting in front of a large group.

  1. Know your material: Practice, practice and practice some more. You don’t have to memorize your material but be familiar with your main points. If pressed for time, spend a minimum of 15 minutes getting your introduction nailed. Most people are the most nervous at the beginning.
  2. Yoga breathing: Take three, deep belly breaths. Slowly inhale through the nose for a count of 10-to-15. Hold for 15 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth slowly, again for a count of 10-to-15. Repeat three times. This helps to calm your nerves and put you at ease before you begin.
  3. Find friendly faces: Even if you have to “plant” someone in the audience when it’s an important presentation, look for the face that’s smiling and nodding. It’s all about building your confidence. The goal is to win over the grumps. But don’t focus on them until you’ve hit your stride!
  4. Keep in mind your audience wants you to succeed: The audience isn’t aware of what you planned to say. And every single person watching you wants you to be good. They’re rooting for a strong, snappy presenter, who’s not boring. They are not looking for your faults.
  5. Picture success: picture yourself as confident, calm and composed. The audience will follow your lead.
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