I have to read Susan Cain’s book The Power of Introverts. So much of my 20s was spent feeling deficient somehow for not liking clubbing and the bar scene like everyone else that it’s always a relief to hear people say that it is okay to enjoy being quiet. I do not consider myself a talker at all, and yet there are times—class presentations, work meetings—when it’s a hindrance to feel uncomfortable making my voice and my ideas heard. ||
Sometimes I toy with the idea of joining my local Toastmasters chapter and conditioning myself to feel comfortable getting up in front of a crowd and just talking. Surely I can’t be the first person they’ve ever had to break out in a cold sweat and have her mind go almost blank at the thought of public speaking. ||
The funny thing is, though, like Susan Cain, I totally identify with doing daring things to prove to myself, at least, that even if I am an introvert, I can handle and excel at things that may not necessarily be ascribed to quiet people. (Joining the Peace Corps? Salsa dancing? Skydiving? Boxing?) And I too count some extroverts as my closest friends…maybe it’s the opposites-attract thing (my theory is that they’re so warm and friendly, they don’t care that I’m reserved, because they’ll talk to anybody and break down those walls in a jiff). ||
In any case, I’m feel like I’m still figuring out how to make introversion work for me with regard to public speaking. Fortunately—or maybe not so much, depending!—what I lack in verbosity I can make up for in stubbornness. I’d like to think that being introverted brings its own source of strength as well—along with the ability simply to be alone, inhabiting that with composure and even enjoying the solitude.
As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’m a big fan of TED.com as a source for public speaking inspiration. I’ve watched dozens of videos on the site, but today I have a new favorite. Susan Cain’s “The Power of Introverts” talk is impressive for all the traditional reasons: She’s poised, confident and articulate. She connects with the audience. Her presentation is well-organized and easy to follow.
But the main reason I am sharing the video here on the American Speaker Blog is because I know that many people who suffer from glossophobia (fear of public speaking) are introverts. And if you’re an introvert who struggles with public speaking, this truly is a can’t-miss talk:
In the speech, Cain mentions introverted leaders who appealed to their followers—at least in part—because they took on leadership roles despite a natural aversion to the spotlight. People like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Gandhi. Their…
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