Blog post -
There is no point trying to force introverts to present like extroverts
I've come to the disarming realisation that for years, presentation skills have been taught all wrong.
Traditionally, public speakers have been told they need to sweep onto the stage with energy, smile at their audience, wow the crowd with a crisp, clear voice and pace confidently across the stage, making probing eye contact with their audience. Don't worry, the advice goes, just be yourself and everything will be okay.
That's great if you're an extrovert.
But it's taken a long time for people to wake up to the fact that there is no point trying to force introverts to present like extroverts. Even some sites purporting to offer presentation skills advice for introverts just repackage what extroverts are told, wrapped in a condescending "relax and you'll be just fine" sort of tone. That's because most presentation skills coaches are, by definition, extrovert.
Fact: If you're an introvert, you won't be just fine. You don't want to go up on stage, let alone sweep onto it with energy. Rather than prance confidently across it, you would much rather hide behind the rostrum or lectern. Your voice quivers and breaks. That's if you can get any words out at all as your vocal cords seem to constrict into a knot. You avoid the gaze of the expectant faces of your audience. Smiling is the last thing on your mind.
But here's another fact: everyone is talented in something. We all have talents. Just different talents, and in varying doses.
CliftonStrengths is a long-established personality assessment, with more than 23 million people having taken the test so far. It establishes what each person's natural talents and abilities are. Talents are those skills that seemingly come naturally to people, that energise people. Everyone's talents are different but they broadly fall into 34 Talent Themes, and founder Dr Donald O. Clifton grouped these into four: Executing, Strategic, Relationship building and Influencing.
Chances are, if you are strong in Influencing talents such as Communication, Woo, Competition, Command, Significance and Self-Assurance, you already have a knack for presenting. You are likely to take to the stage like a fish to water and on that foundation, tactical presentation skills training will help you to really fly.
Since I became a Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths coach I have focused on how to apply your talents - any talents - to public speaking, and that could be traditional media, live webcasting, podcasting, networking and more.
So, even if you don't have any Influencing talents in your Top 5 Signature Talents, you can apply the Talents you do have. Even if you have Talents such as Relator, Restorative or Input - which aren't usually associated with great extroverted orators - you can still leverage those Talents for media interviews and presentations. By leveraging your natural "flow" Talents, you can still present well - and even enjoy it!
Take the Deliberative talent. People who are talented in Deliberative tend to be very good at spotting obstacles. They're natural risk managers, and they have both a knack for anticipating difficulties and are energized by it.
So, I help them apply this Talent to their public speaking skillset.
Moreover, the way I coach people is now based on their Talent profile. So, not only do they learn presentation skills that will feel entirely natural to them, they also learn them in a way that comes naturally (more details).
It's hugely rewarding to be able to help business leaders turn whatever they are endowed with into a solid on-stage performance.