Thursday, November 8, 2012

Factoring in your speaker personality when you're an introvert

Because I've taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment of my personality preferences, I know I'm an ENTJ--an extroverted, intuitive, thinking, judger. That tells me a lot about who I am as a public speaker. As someone who tilts slightly into the extrovert camp, I get energized by audiences...but only so much, since I'm not the biggest extrovert around.  (Lots of practice in front of audiences, however, has made this a stronger skill for me.) As a "thinker," I'm more analytical and less emotional. As an intuitive, I'm good at sensing an audience's mood and switching gears to meet it, and I look for possibilities in new situations.

I was reminded about why this is important to women and public speaking, thanks to this guesswork on the Myers-Briggs personality types of the 2008 presidential candidates (emphasis added):
Introversion/extraversion refer to where people get their energy. Extraverts get their energy from other people, the external world, and experiences. Introverts get their energy from themselves or their own space. Extraverts are often chatty, social and open; introverts are often quiet, reflective and contained. Introverts open up to their close friends; extraverts open up to everyone. Bill Clinton is clearly an extravert; I think Hillary is an introvert...Since 75% of the population is extraverted, extraverts are considered normal...Introverts often have to feign extraversion to succeed in the professional world; their natural style is often not valued. Much of the criticism of Hillary Clinton's authenticity is criticism of her introversion.
It's important for speakers to factor in their personality type when considering what works for them as speakers. Introverts may need to schedule some down time before and after a speech or presentation, as the experience might use up much more energy than it would for an extrovert. It's exhausting, colleagues have told me, to stretch themselves in this way. And even though I'm on the extroverted side of the spectrum, I have plenty of introvert in me. I can last a lot longer with a crowd than most introverts, but appreciate my alone time, too. For an easy read on figuring out your own (and others') Myers-Briggs types, check out Type Talk and Type Talk at Work, or check with your human resources office about taking the personality type assessment. It's often a relief to find out how your type reacts in a variety of settings--public speaking included--and to use that knowledge to make your path easier.

Another source of relief for the introverted speaker: My November 27 workshop on public speaking and presenting for introverts. I've used what we know about introverts to create a workshop that omits advice that really only works for the extroverted, using content and format considerations chosen specifically for introverts, to make this a comfortable training environment for you. It's a myth that inftroverts can't stretch to be great public speakers, and I'll give you the tactics you need to support yourself as a speaker, time and time again. Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz if you have questions or need more information about the session. And register today--registration closes November 16. I hope you'll be able to join me for this unique training opportunity!

(This post revises and expands one I published in 2008.)