Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Most people that come through my doors looking to become public speakers are either introverted, shy or both - Oh my -:(
As you know, stepping up to a podium has its challenges for anyone. But boy, is it exacerbated and complicated by these character traits. For people who are shy or introverted, it can be a downright scary proposition.
Introverts can find their way. For shy folks, though, ditching the jitters requires some significant internal shifts.
You may be surprised to know that introverts make the very BEST speakers. I'll tell you why in just a bit.
How do you characterize yourself? Do you understand the differences between introversion and shyness?
For most of my life, it was a double whammy for me when it came to public speaking: I was both super shy and introverted. I was so reticent that speaking up made my teeth chatter when I was in front of three or more people. It was both painful and scary.
When I had no choice, it felt like I was busting through a 50'-thick brick wall just to get a couple of sentences out. That was how it always was for me until I cleared up the memories of the traumas - big and small, that had kept me from trusting myself.
I was so tangled up with uncertainty that sometimes I couldn't even discern if I had an opinion, let alone being courageous enough to express it. I did a real number on myself. I often walked away from social situations feeling unworthy, with the weighty conclusion that I just didn't belong. Then I'd rehash the event over and over, beat myself up and wonder, "What's wrong with me?"
I finally got the help I needed to heal the pain inside so that I could claim my voice. This was a huge milestone. I was then able to recognize my introversion and tendency to be on the shy side without judgment. I chose to take more deep breaths with exhales longer than my inhales to help me to feel safe, and I also realized that I needed more space after an event than extroverts so that I could feel centered again.
Introverts tend to avoid social situations because they simply don't like them. They may be sensitive to being around others or bored easily by small talk and find themselves feeling drained by social interactions. In contrast, shy people avoid social interactions because they are fearful of being judged and lack a solid sense of self.
After many years of coaching a couple of thousand introverts to shine their light in the spotlight, I have found that they make exceptional speakers. Why? Because they are naturally good listeners and can read their audience, they care deeply for others and are adept at approaching an audience from a wholehearted place too. They prefer to talk about things that are meaningful to them and genuinely connect, so it becomes easy for them to share from a place of depth, which compels their audience to take it all in.
For shy folks, avoiding a public presence is much more than a preference. When shy, stepping into a group setting, especially with authority figures in the room, can trigger their nervous system and loads of self-doubt. These situations typically bring to the surface all the reasons they don't feel good enough about themselves and prefer to be invisible rather than visible. For most, they are acutely afraid of being admonished yet again.
The good news is that shy people can heal from the painful past and move on to fully embrace who they are. If I did it, so can you!
Hurtful memories where we didn't feel good enough lead us to countless rounds of paralyzing self-judgment, which dims our light and our brilliance. They also have a massive influence on our subconscious mind, which continually sabotages us in our most important moments, like public speaking.
We were all born to reach our fullest potential, and letting go of the hold our past has on us is essential if we are to become our best selves.
For the past 25 years, I've worked with all sorts of techniques to help myself and others heal from the painful events of the past, and most just seem to peel away bits and pieces of the hurt.
The fastest transformations I've ever witnessed have been with the CORE Repatterning Technique. These one-on-one sessions support all types of people - shy ones included.
CORE sessions promptly clear the nervous system of the stress of past painful events. Like me, many with shyness walk away with a whole new lease on life, happily embracing their time public speaking or anywhere the spotlight is shining.