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Public speaking for introverts (ailon.org)
67 points by ailon on Sept 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

As an introvert who has done some public speaking I can summarize it in one sentence.

Get enough private time and rest before you speak, and after if you feel tired then.

Introvert != shy

Introvert != stage fright

Introvert to me simply means I have a shorter energy supply when around people I don't know.

The closer they are to me, the more I can be around them without getting tired.

So don't equate introversion with social anxiety or inability to speak in public.

So with that said, learning public speaking for introverts should follow the same rules as for anyone else.

Fellow INTP here. The conflation of introvert and shy is a continual source of frustration. Even my immediate family was dismissive when I casually mentioned I’m pretty deeply introverted.

Modern society hasn't evolved to include introverted people. I find that in a business setting, I'm always forced to be fake-extroverted just to fit in or I might be perceived as having a mood. This is pretty apparent from the amount of books and articles there are for converting introverts into extroverts.

I overheard someone giving advice to their daughter the other day that was basically "if you don't go out and meet new people, then you will be unhappy in your life." Which is absolute bullshit, but c'est la vie.

In my view, there are a lot of cases where people conflate the "clinical" and "popular" definitions of words. For instance if I say that I'm "depressed," it doesn't mean that I've been diagnosed with clinical depression. It just means that I'm bummed.

Unfortunately, people will interpret your comments according to their own biases, and I've that a lot of people are biased to distrust or dislike introverts. For this reason, I would never admit to being an introvert, in a business setting. I would rather tell people that I'm mildly extroverted, and then let them believe what they want.

Why would you be discussing your personal attributes in a business setting?

Interestingly, I once worked for an employer that required everybody to take a personality test. The results were never discussed with anybody, and the whole thing could have been a bunch of hocus pocus, but it nonetheless raised the issue.

It's actually pretty common to do personality testing in businesses.

Some hire an MBTI consultant for whole workshop days. Some just order a pre-made test.

When taking the test, it should be possible to identify the questions that code for the "extrovert" and "introvert" scale.

Oh yes it is. That's the sad part. When you find yourself manipulating your own personality test. :) I actually meant to reply to the person above you who was surprised that you'd reveal that information in a business setting.

I've thought a bit about it, and am actually OK with it. For one thing, we manipulate our own personalities, so why not our personality tests. It's our job to make people comfortable working with us. The people whom we work with don't have to know what we're actually thinking at any given moment. In fact, I suspect if it were actually possible to create an algorithm that opens up a window into our minds, civility and collaboration would collapse.

Totally agree. I'm actually a shy extrovert. I'm unhappy around people and not around people :-(

All of this. Like a lot of us that frequent HN (I'm assuming), I'm introverted af. I'm not shy though.

So if I'm shy and experience crippling stage fright, what am I?

You're shy and experience crippling stage fright. That might sound trite, but it's better than trying to otherwise fit you in one of two boxes that don't accurately (nor intend to) take those two features into account.

The definition of an introvert is a shy person.

Audrey Hepburn, Hollywood star and UNICEF Ambassador:

"I have to be alone very often. I'd be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That's how I refuel."

Agree with ionised and reddit_clone (below). I'm an introvert and I am definitely not shy, nor are my thoughts 'self centered'. It's simply that it takes more mental energy to engage with those I don't already know.

[edit] to clarify to whom I'm agreeing.

I am pretty introverted. It's not that I'm shy, it's that conversations take a lot of mental energy for me, it's exhausting.

Except it isn't. I suggest you do some reading and educate yourself.

No psychologist worth their salt would define an introvert that way.

There a various definitions, but the one I like is: introverts exhaust energy while around people, extroverts recharge.

It's only one of the definitions. If anything, it's the common one instead of being the scientific one.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/introvert says:



1. a shy person.

2. Psychology. a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings (opposed to extrovert ). "

No (2) doesn't sound right. It makes it sound synonymous to 'self centered', which I am sure most introverts are not.

Your "own thoughts" don't have to be about yourself. It just means you're paying less attention to what other people think or feel.

(edit: added "don't")

Introverts who are very active on social media perplex me. As an introvert, they just seem like extroverts to me. I don't have the energy nor interest to have Internet conversations with strangers.

The asyncronicity makes a very big difference for me.

Is public speaking really that bad for introverts? I always felt that even though it sucks the life out of you, it's only for an hour, and gearing up for one hour life suck activities is a pretty common thing we have to do.

I mean, would you rather get invited to a party and spend 4 hours socializing with strangers, or give a talk at a conference for 1 hour? Guess it's different for each person but for me the party is worse.

If you have fear of public speaking, google toastmasters + your city. I have seen many first time speakers and trust me many are quite nervous in the beginning - but it is quite a safe environment, open to new people and nobody laughs (unless you are trying to do a comedy speech).

That's good advice - I know at least one person for who Toastmasters has been quite transformative (beyond just improving his public speaking).

But a clause needs to be added: "If you have fear of public speaking and you want to overcome it"

The last part is crucial. Just because public speaking is temporarily in fashion in some business circles no more means we all have to do it than we all had to eat fondue in the '70's, or grow beards now (OK that's heading towards passéland). Public speaking is fine, but it's just one of thousands of human activities you may or may not wish to do. You might choose to learn to ride a motorcycle instead. Or leap off burning buildings. Whatever your thing is.

> Some people drink a little bit of alcohol or take pills (not something I would recommend)

I would. Some people have crippling stage fright every time while several others would get it if the stakes are too high (imagine being called to demo at the iPhone launches). I doubt that the author being a natural public speaker can relate to that.

It's not about not being a good/polished public speaker but more about being so paralyzed with anxiety that your hands/knees shake and your voice breaks to the point that you couldn't read off a teleprompter. You lose all situational awareness and enter a fight or flight mode. If that describes you then take propranolol. (after asking your doctor of course)

I hear what you are saying and I've seen people who get paralyzed like that, but I'd say that 95% of the time public speaking is not something you must do. So, if it that "painful", I'd say just don't do it. The world won't end.

The world also won't end if you calm your nerves with a drink.

Though naturally, you should have some experience with alcohol or pills before doing this, or you'll get a combination of stage fright with having a slightly fuzzy brain.

You might feel good about your speech, but your audience might decide that maybe you shouldn't do that again.

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