I really enjoy public speaking. Given the opportunity to sign up for a talk or panel, I will almost always say yes. Just this week I’ve started on the presentation for one talk, submitted an application to talk at another event, and am in the process of outlining my submissions for an additional two later in the year.

This is basically me right now:

Obligatory meme, courtesy of Hyperbole & a Half


This has led some people to make a bit of a misplaced conclusion:

“I’m not an extrovert like you, I can’t do that sort of thing, get on stage and talk to people like that!”

I’ve heard variants of that same sentiment throughout the years, and while entertaining, it is completely off the mark.

I am a hardcore introvert.

If you know me well, this shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise. Small talk with a group of strangers is something I generally try to avoid, and attempting to get me to go out to any sort of spontaneous social event can be nothing short of a Herculean feat. I relax by being alone, spending an inordinate amount of time working on personal projects, naval gazing, and/or rambling on about random topics on Twitter. I’m not exactly Ms. Socialite.

So why is it that I love public speaking?

Playing the Part

Many introverts will talk about being ‘on’ when they are doing presentations, giving a talk, or otherwise participating in big social interactions. This is part of the fun for me. It’s like playing the part of an extrovert, albeit for a limited span of time. I may not be an actress, but I can play a confident, extroverted public speaker when I need to! (…and then retreat to my hotel room to decompress)

Controlled Conversation

One of the biggest joys of public speaking as an introvert is that if you are the sole speaker, you have complete control of the conversation. You have time to prepare, decide what direction the conversation will take, and what your key points of discussion will be along the way. Public speaking can be an introvert’s dream in that respect; You’re prepared, know what you’re going to say, and no one gets to side-track your thoughts or otherwise deviate from your line of discussion!

Bonus: You also get to skip all of the soul-draining ‘small talk’ that can accompany smaller scale conversations! (unless you really want to include it as part of your talk for some reason…)

Sharing Your Passion

The opportunity to share one’s passions with an engaged audience is phenomenally rewarding, and at the heart of why I love public speaking. I am deeply interested in a variety of topics, and while I don’t tend to have a lot of smaller conversations around them, I revel in the opportunity to share that enthusiasm in a way that’s genuine and can have a positive impact.

The added bonus effect of being passionate about what you’re talking about is that it becomes that much easier to talk about it. If you’re genuinely into what you’re talking about, your confidence naturally tends to be higher, and the reservations around what to say and how to say it slide away in the face of enthusiasm and even improvisation.

Public speak is, at its core, storytelling. Make sure the story you‘re telling is one that you’re passionate about and everything else is secondary.

The Bungy Jump Effect

And if all goes well, nothing beats that post-talk rush of accomplishment! While it’s easy to nitpick at what you could have done better when there’s a bit more distance between you and the talk, that rush of ‘Hah, I made it!’ upon successfully making it through another talk is a hell of a thing.

That effect is why I’ve often referred to public speaking as ‘bungy jumping for introverts’: Everything in your brain might be telling you that this is terrifying and not to do it, but the post-jump rush can be incredibly exhilarating!

And it just keeps on getting easier. While I’m not going to lie and state that the pre-talk jitters ever really go away (they certainly haven’t for me), more experience means more examples in which you you survived the talk and hopefully had a positive impact on the audience. That sensation is incredibly rewarding, and makes even the worst ‘oh man am I going to throw up?’ feeling worth it.

Coming Soon:

Getting Started with Public Speaking

Have anything you’d like to see me discuss, something not make sense, or just want to peer pressure me into actually writing more? Leave a comment or drop me a line @kindofstrange

Originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@kindofstrange/bungy-jumping-for-introverts-6453e17189ed

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