If somebody were to create a movie-character PR representative, the character would likely be extroverted, outspoken, with the gift of gab. Unfortunately, fictional characters often follow preconceived notions and stereotypes.
In reality, many PR professionals are reserved, even introverted; they find speaking in public intimidating. But in PR, it’s difficult to avoid occasional public speaking. Some good news: If you’re an introvert, there are ways to make the ordeal of public speaking easier to endure.
1. Plan, practice and educate yourself.
The one thing guaranteed to freeze your blood is the unexpected. The best way to avoid this is to do the following.
- Know how and when you will get to the venue.
- Make a list of everything you’ll need the day of the speech.
- Create an itinerary for the day of the speech.
- If you’ve not been to the venue, map your route carefully.
- Practice your speech over and over again.
- If you’ll use projectors or are doing a slide show, use them when you rehearse.
- Practice in front of a test audience and ask for feedback.
- Memorize as much as possible to avoid fumbling through notes.
- Learn everything about the attendees, so you can write content that engages them.
- Visit the venue ahead of time to get familiar with the space you’ll be working in.
- Are there other presenters? Find out what they are presenting, especially the speaker who precedes you.
2. Smile before you do anything else.
When you smile, you feel more relaxed and confident. You become more likeable. When you step on stage to speak, look out into your audience and smile. Begin on a warm, positive note.
3. Engage your audience throughout.
Most speakers speak, then field questions. If you’re an introvert, this may not be best. You might want to ask questions and solicit comments throughout your talk. This gives you short breaks from all of the attention. When it’s time to ask for audience feedback, you’re less likely to be barraged with comments and questions.
4. Tell a story.
Consider beginning with a story. Storytelling is a great to get an audience’s attention, to illustrate a point, to set an emotional tone, and to prepare your audience to take action. A touching, funny, surprising, or compelling story gets the audience on your side, primed to hear more.
5. Don’t be afraid to adopt a persona.
Many public personalities are introverted. Performing doesn’t only appeal to extroverts. Adopting a persona to go on stage or screen isn’t the same as going in front of an audience as yourself. Why not create a persona you can take on in a speech? You might find speaking less nerve-wracking.
6. Get plenty of rest before and after.
Public speaking drains emotional and mental energy from introverts. You’ll likely feel empty from planning, anticipation, and from giving the speech. You should set aside down time before and after your speech. Get a restful night of sleep before the event.
7. Give the speech your audience craves.
Even for introverts, it’s uplifting look into your audience and see people smiling, nodding in agreement, or engrossed in your words. The best way to get this result is to give an interesting, informative speech that meets your audience’s needs. Figure out what your audience needs to hear, or what problem they have that you can solve. Your speech should answer these questions:
- Why should this interest them?
- What benefits will they get from taking action?
- How will this improve their lives?
- What need of theirs does this information meet?
If you can answer two of these questions, you’ll have met your goal.
Don’t let introversion make you believe that you can’t speak in public. You can give interesting, engaging, compelling speeches—these simple tips can help.
Diana Beyer is experienced and self-driven media expert who is passionate about writing .