Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

‘Know Thyself’ to be an authentic speaker

know thyselfThis blog has always emphasised the need for speakers to focus on the audience. There is  no point  presenting to anyone unless you’ve tailored it to their needs, interests, and approach to the issue. Countless examples of miscommunication occur every day in all sorts of settings because the person speaking and the person listening are not on the same wavelength.

People will pay attention for their reasons – not yours. That said however  it’s equally important to decide how you want to come across, from their point of view. Your style should suit the occasion but must also be a ‘true you’. You should be real. Authenticity is most important in convincing an audience to go along with you.

People have great bulls***t detectors so don’t bother with it.  Just be aware which of your natural attributes is going to work best in your situation. You may choose to be ‘authoritative’, or ‘appealing’, ‘intelligent’, ‘friendly’, ‘reliable’ – and so on. If you are the life of any party feel free to be amusing and ebullient. If you are thoughtful and introspective, by all means reveal this in what you say and how you speak. If you are everybody’s pal, popular and a team player, let that show.

Introvert/Extrovert – who cares?

It can be very helpful to understand where you sit on the introvert/extrovert scale, as it explains a lot about your preferred operating style, and the way others perceive you.

There is a lot written about this, and you can get a detailed analysis if you do a Myers-Briggs test.  More recently  Susan Cain’s best seller “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Never Stops Talking”  and her hugely popular TED talk has opened this issue up for discussion.

Introverts tend to think before they speak, and  like  solitude. They feel energized when focusing deeply on a subject or activity. They have an active inner life, and are at their best when they tap into its riches. They need time to think, contemplate and deal with ‘stuff’ alone.  They think before they speak. If you own a two seater car and would  unscrew and remove the other  seat  if you could, you are an introvert.

Extroverts love social life, and are ‘up’ when  interacting with friends and strangers. They are assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day. They’re great at thinking on their feet, and often are relatively comfortable with conflict. They tend to talk in order to think, and are at their best when engaged with the world and tapping into its energy.

Being insensitive to these differences causes a lot of unnecessary conflict,  tension and  miscommunication.

If you are an extravert dealing with introverts you may  be frustrated by their lack of feedback and wonder just how hard you have to tap dance to get a response. They might find you demanding, exhausting, overwhelming, with no ‘off’ switch.  Learn to give them time to process and think, and don’t expect it to be easy to talk things over. Respect their silences. Do not invade their space, and when they do speak up, pay attention.

If you are an introvert dealing with extroverts, you need to recognise their need for interaction, tolerate their need to verbalise, and help them to hear things from you. Ask them things, seek their opinion, talk issues over.

You might need some help to get to know yourself.  Here are two websites that make psychological tests available. They are fun, and  useful.  Spend some time with this: http://www.psychometrictest.org.uk/ or this: http://www.outofservice.com/bigfive

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This entry was posted on 11/06/2013 by in Audience connection, Confidence for Speakers.

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