3 tips for INTROVERTED speakers


All I can remember is the bright lights and the tall, tall ceilings. And that I absolutely didn’t want to be there. The next thing I know is that I’m outside, by the big window, my parents and my piano teacher trying to convince me to come back to the room.

And I wouldn’t budge.

The truth? I hated playing the piano. I wasn’t musically inclined (like, at all!), had very small hands, and had a profound dislike for my piano teacher - there was nothing wrong with him per se, but since I hated playing the piano, I felt an instinctive aversion for him, too.

And, yet, somehow I agreed to the recital. What was I thinking?

Granted, I didn’t have much of an option given I was 8 years old and mostly oblivious to the fact that a recital would entail playing the piano in a big room in front of 50 people or so. Who knew!

And I was mostly carefree about it … Until the fated day came … And I was about to get up, and just couldn’t do it. I had to leave the room.

Much has happened since then. I’m now a speaker and a professor (gasp!), and I perform all the time in front of hundreds of people. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t get nervous anymore. There’s still a little shy girl inside of me. But I don’t feel the need to rush out of the room anymore. I stay. I play. I kick ass. And now I teach other women to be powerful speakers too.

And, yet, because I am an introvert myself, there’s a special place in my heart for helping the shy but mighty women who know speaking’s part of their calling, but are terrified of the spotlight.

And that’s why this week I’m sharing 3 powerful tips for introverted speakers.

My guess is that they’re not what you think!

See, on the day of my piano recital, I eventually made it back to the room. I was only 8, but I faced my demons and gathered up the courage to show up. Do I remember what happened next? No. Was it my best performance? Probably not. Did I continue taking piano lessons? No, I stopped shortly after.

But, on that day I learned what it takes to show up, even when you know you’re kind of sucky.

Here they are:

INTROVERTED SPEAKER TIP #1: Do not hide who you are

See, there’s a model of public speaking out there that’s all extroverted and energetic. So many of us when we first start out think that we have to look like that! Well, guess what? That’s not true. To be a successful speaker, you have to embrace who you are and show up powerfully and authentically to serve.

Which means, you have to embrace your introversion and bring it to the table, instead of hiding from it or thinking you need to be different. Because: THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU!

Next time you’re on stage, begin your presentation by saying that you are an introvert, that you are shy, that there’s a part of you that’d rather be curled up under a blanket with a good book. And watch the audience fall in love with you.

INTROVERTED SPEAKER TIP #2: Connect to your body

When we’re super anxious before or doing a speaking engagement, we tend to leave our bodies -- a phenomenon called “dissociation.” We might even do a good job, but we leave barely remembering what happened, what we said, and whether we were truly there.

To avoid dissociating, it’s crucial that you increase awareness of your body so that you realize that you’re on stage as a physical being.

This can be done through a powerful pre-stage practice that I call the “YES meditation” -- you can read about it here.

I encourage you to practice it as often as you can, even before you sit down to write your speech, or when you think about being on stage and start to panic. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

INTROVERTED SPEAKER TIP #3: Practice practice practice (and make sure you do it the right way!)

They say practice makes perfect. But is it true for introverts? I hear so much from my clients that they practice, practice, practice but then they get on stage and forget everything! While this is common, it means two things: (1) You haven’t practiced enough (sad but true!); or (2) You haven’t practiced in the right way.

When you practice, it’s not just about repeating memorized words at an intellectual level.

Real practice is about feeling the words you say with your entire being, so that they become a part of you.

It’s truly a full-body experience, and you must do it over and over again. So, don’t shy away from feeling, and get to work!

I believe in you and your voice,