Speaking for introverts

by Mike McQuillan

Speaking for introverts

By Mike McQuillan

“I can’t speak in public, I’m an introvert!”

Have you ever said that before? Don’t look now, you just spoke in public. 

On this site we often look at mythology in the world of public speaking. Today we look at the notion that introverts have a disadvantage in front of an audience. Keep reading for inspiration over your introspection.

You have the advantage

If you are an introvert, you have an advantage over me. You actually think before you speak. You actually consider whether someone might be offended. You pause long enough for people to think about what you said. I often think about what that must be like. But not for very long.

Being shy and being introverted are not the same.  Shyness is an emotion, and it’s never positive. It comes and goes, depending on your circumstances. You can overcome shyness with effort.

Introversion is nothing for you to overcome. It has nothing to do with ability to function around people. Introversion only means that you turn inward when you think. There are some very friendly, charismatic people who at heart are introverts.

Look, look. I uh, like ... ice cream

Let’s cross into the fourth dimension and talk about politics. Is Barack Obama introverted or extroverted? You might be surprised to find out that Obama is an introvert. That’s why you hear so many “uhs” and double starts. Nothing comes out of his mouth until he runs a 14-point check system through every compartment of his brain. Is it offensive? Is it properly cited? Can I crack a smile afterward? Once all the voices in Obama’s head agree, we finally get to hear him speak.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden, by contrast, are extroverts. Torpedo in the water, we'll decide later if it makes any sense. Spontaneous moments come naturally to an extrovert, while an introvert can handle a teleprompter much better. But you probably knew that already. Enough about politicians. Let’s look at some real people.

It's a beautiful day for an introvert

If you read the post about my speaking influences, you can find Mr. Fred Rogers and his address to the US Senate back in 1969.

In six short minutes, Mr. Rogers turns a gruff veteran senator into the Neighborhood’s biggest fan and secures the funding. He never raises his voice, confronts or accuses anybody. He disarms Sen. Pastore, by appealing to his deep concern for children.

His dedication to the purpose of his speech, rather than the need for instant reactions from the senator, made this address so legendary. Others in that position may clamor for attention or a viral clip, especially in today’s age. It was Mr. Rogers’s introversion that created the moment.

Beware of the elbow patches

Does this mean that introverted people are inherently smarter than those who think out loud? If you think so, keep it to yourself.

Before you pull a winged-back chair up to the fireplace and begin recording slow-paced musings on the meaning of life, there is a caveat. Introspection does not automatically guarantee superior intellect.

Coming from academia, I have seen many intellectual frauds pass off their fast food philosophy as great wisdom. A grown man speaking on stage with his legs crossed might come across as understanding the Kosmos better than you do. Don’t take that for granted.

The pregnant pause is not always a trip to the bottom of a cerebral well. Sometimes it’s just another dumbass with elbow patches on his jacket. Your status as an introvert does not entitle you to scholarly superiority.

Simpletons sound sophisticated

Do you want an example? Good! I’ve been waiting to cheap-shot this guy.

If you take Simple Simon Sinek for the cliche dispenser that I see, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a fan of his, you’re never going to hire me as a coach anyway so let’s let it rip.

His intermittent forced British accent has won some people over to believe that his musings on "kids these days" or "leadership begins with leading" have great philosophical merit. His attempt to monopolize the word "Why" is as original as original flavored bubble gum.

If you're offended by what you just read, no worries. You're probably an introvert and not likely to respond anyway.

Set the stage, and the example

It is possible that you’re reading this article because I sent it to you directly. You were bold enough to speak up and say that introverts can’t speak in public. Are you inspired yet?

Loudmouths like me count on a counterbalance to carry the good word to everybody. Look deep within yourself and share your message with the world. And in the meantime, please leave a comment below.

Mike McQuillan

About the author

Mike McQuillan, aka the Fit Presenter, coaches fitness industry professionals to give top-quality presentations, seminars, and courses. His day job is an English teacher in Lima, Peru.

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