If you’re an introvert, you may struggle to speak in public and plan to avoid it whenever you can; getting up in front of a group can seem like an insurmountable hurdle if you tend to avoid the spotlight. Yet you may need or want to present well; you have ideas to share, and it really bothers you that you don’t feel competent at presenting.
If you want to be able to get up and speak but feel as though you’re fighting yourself as it’s happening, it’s worth knowing this (I discovered this concept through Susan Cain’s writing; her book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts):
Researchers have found that we all have 2 physical systems in our bodies relating to ‘stop’ and ‘go’. The Behavioural Activation System (BAS), or ‘Go’ system, gets you going and revs you up. The ‘Stop’ or Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS) makes you cautious and careful, and is designed to keep you safe in the face of danger in the outside world. As an introvert, your ‘Stop’ system may kick in strongly when you’re trying to do something which scares you. So to over-ride your desire to hesitate or stop, you need to replace it with your BAS, and get activated!
Here are 4 suggestions to get you going on the day. They work just as well if you’re e.g. speaking up in a meeting or being interviewed, you don’t have to be giving a formal presentation.
- Physically get moving. Exercise your body by going for a run or fast walk beforehand; in the venue, privately doing karate chops in the air or star-jumps in the toilet or another room before you speak. In the past, I’ve run up stairs before I present. (I’ve also written about this here in my article on being a low-energy speaker.)
- Get annoyed with yourself. Use frustration or anger with yourself to get you going. You have to be careful how you use this one so you don’t get on a roll, but a bit of self-talk like “For goodness sake, just get on with it! Get over yourself” has helped clients to spark up and replace a sluggish, hesitant energy
- Model another person. By “acting as if” you’re someone with a more outgoing energy, you actually “take action” to behave differently. It’s behaving your way into a new way of doing
- Humour can be the fastest way to reframe your thinking about a situation. Think of something that makes you laugh, then go on with a smile on your face. You might say this isn’t easy to do, but try it, you may be surprised
Let me know how you get on if you’d like, by leaving a comment below.