You might think that only type A personalities are great presenters, but the truth is that introverts can command audience attention just as effectively as their more extroverted peers. The challenge for introverts is to make the adjustment to an arena that they might not prefer when the path to their personal and career success stands on the presenting side of the podium.
Being a good presenter is not impossible for introverts. The challenge is in overcoming preconceptions, preferences and bad habits to master a medium that can lead to greater success. We’ve listed some thoughts below that can start you on the path to career success.
Wouldn’t it be great if …?
As part of the education process, many of us have been brought up in the academic tradition of writing papers. Unfortunately, the logical format of papers that we’ve had ingrained into us for most of our lives is actually backwards when it comes to making an effective presentation. It may feel natural to start with the data and then bring it to a conclusion with the “ah-ha” moment. However, when you present, the first and most important part of your presentation is the vision casting. “Wouldn’t it be great if…” might be the opening line of your presentation, giving vision to your entire presentation and opening the receptors in the minds of your audience. After you draw them in, you can build the case for the vision you’ve presented. We call this “vision before process”, meaning that we need to fight the ingrained nature to want to present all the data and end on the proverbial cymbal clash of your vision.
In casting that vision, you must let your own personal passion and conviction be presented. You might not feel like letting a room of 50 strangers know just how passionate you are about a topic, but that passion and conviction is how introverts take presentations by storm, bringing the audience into their vision of the world and the presentation ahead. Giving a presentation is getting permission to be who you are. The room is waiting for you to be you – not for you to read slides.
You can’t be invisible and present at the same time.
Much of the anxiety in presentations has to do with the physical space or act of presenting. It might be your dream to present in a dark room and have all eyes on your PowerPoint while your voice is emitted from a hidden place like the Wizard of Oz. But that’s not going to happen!
Once you get past that fantasy you will need to plan to be comfortable in front of a room of your peers. That will mean being looked at and listened to directly. There are many tips and tricks for this, such as wearing very comfortable clothes, arriving very early and doing a dry run, practicing until you can do it in your sleep, and so on. We’ve even heard of people channeling a “hero” to take on a different persona during the presentation. Not all of these work for everyone, and with more practice you need fewer and fewer of these tricks.
The unavoidable fact about a presentation is that it is a performance. You might think that those “presenters” who are charismatic are faking it, or are even inauthentic about what they are saying. While we understand your thinking, the truth of the matter is that what’s really happening is that those presenters understand the medium they are using to communicate with the audience. Presentations are a medium of their own, and certain tactics, approaches, and processes work best in that medium. Being able to communicate an idea in person requires critical skills in communications. You will actually perform better, get your message across, and feel more comfortable doing it the more you embrace the performance aspect of your presentation. This doesn’t mean you need to pull out a comedy routine, but realize that you are the focal point, not the slides. The slides support you, not the other way around.
You deserve to be here.
Lastly, with all of the apprehension you might have about presenting, you have to remember: you deserve to be here. You were chosen to present based on who you are. The more you can embrace this simple truth, the more successful and confident you will be in presenting. Your presentation will be reflective of that confidence, and your career trajectory will be largely influenced by your ability to communicate – whether you’re doing it at a corporate board presentation or in a meeting of three people.
From Zero to Hero.
If you are ready to take your presentation skills to the next level, there is no better place to start than with personal presentations training from The Ammerman Experience. We can help anyone master the skill of presentation, and grow themselves and their communication skills. This might be just the thing to help you excel in your career in 2016.