An introvert by definition is a person who is predominantly concerned with his own thoughts and feelings rather than external things. Introverts possess characteristics seen as shy, reticent, and are often assumed to be self-centered.
Introverts are people holding a treasure that is worth discovering. They are not people who hate people, but they prefer to be alone rather than to be in the crowd surrounded. There are positive aspects to both introverts and extroverts, and this article will explore the positive aspects of life as an introvert, and how you can embrace the different parts to live a happy life.
1. Confronting part (internal)
As some people prefer to be around others–introverts– some people like to be left alone with their own thoughts–the introverts. Confronting with oneself is the most important part of being introvert. If you tend to enjoy more time alone then be more alone. If you force yourself to go in the crowd just to pretend to be someone you are not, you are going to experience mood failure.
Before making someone else happy, we need to have positive energy to share that happiness. If we go against our happiness, it’s bad for our health, happiness, and the environment.
Energy is flow–every atom vibrate at any given frequency, which proves that we have waves of positivity or negativity to share, depending on our mood status. Do not go against your own self because that’s the destructive part and trouble maker.
2. Cope with public (external)
Okay, let’s not confuse some things. Being an introvert is not a person who hates people and would rather be swaying in the corner, sitting alone in the dark room, than to be present in a bright room full of people.
Coping with the public is cheerful for everyone. Introverts need less time with people, but they vitally need that part. Sharing our thoughts and having someone to understand us is always a must. Introverts have fewer people they can open up to. That means introverts external part is a must, but the number of people they open up is few. They prefer smaller entourage, rather than bigger one.
Some imagine introverts as Will Smith from I Am Legend, which is a common misconception. They are happy having a small, close circle of friends rather than a crowd.
3. Accepting part (internal and external)
The part where the flow of the chemistry with oneself combines is the part where we accept ourselves as the person we are.
After confronting, we need to accept and live by that rule our whole life. It’s something like having a code. Introverts live by the code expressed by the quote “I’m rarely bored alone; I’m often bored in groups and crowds.”
Having fun and enjoying with oneself is a gift that needs to be embraced. Lot people I personally know, and many of my close friends, can’t be left alone. They seek someone to hangout and must be around the crowd. That states them as extroverts and they accept that.
Extroverts have one funny quote which describes them perfect “When people assume something’s wrong because you don’t feel like talking.” Usually, if we don’t assume that is wrong, there is quite big possibility that they are introverts because the mind speaks all the time, either we share that voice with people or we keep it to ourselves. Even when we sleep, we often dream. “That thing” up there never sleeps.
We have to confront ourselves, combine with our feelings, see what makes us happy, and accept that we are the way we are.
As an introvert, I understand how life seems quite overwhelming. Constant anxiety and nervousness when engaging with people, especially those who are out of our comfort zone, feels inhibiting. Moreover, one gets misunderstood on many levels by extroverts, and this adds to our frustrations when trying to communicate. The below tips help in alleviating some of our woes, so that we introverts can live great and fulfilling lives.
1. Fit in.
Fitting into a social gathering or a party may seem exhausting for introverts. Bring in a friend or a colleague with whom you are comfortable. Alternatively, come early to the party when the crowd is thin to identify and meet people who share your interests. This way when the party gets loud and the room gets crowded, you are already in your comfort zone.
Man is a social animal, and seeks constant communication and feedback with anyone he encounters. For introverts, this is not something that is easy to internalize. To compensate for this lack of understanding, always over-communicate. Acknowledge anyone you meet. The acknowledgement need not be verbal; a smile on the face or a pat on the back works well too. Similarly, when communicating your feelings and emotions with others, don’t be shy about your feedback. Be assertive, and, if necessary, repetitive in getting the message across.
3. Focus the conversation.
As introverts, we do not like meandering around endless conversations. Such conversations seem pointless and a waste of energy. Rather than getting frustrated in the cacophony of noise, one should focus the conversation with objective, reflective, interpretive and decisional questions. This helps to maintain our mental equilibrium, to add meaning to the conversation, and, if lucky, to bring the conversation to a logical end.
Prepare in advance before you attend a social gathering, or a meeting. Have some topics of conversation ready. Be ready with what you want to share. If possible play out in your head how you would like to steer the conversation. Think of all the diversions and how would you tackle them. This may seem cumbersome at the start, but once you have a standard script ready, it is easy to customize for just about any occasion.
5. Know your limits.
Understand your limits, and do not push them without reason. It is OK to say “no” if you are not comfortable attending a social event. Even at the workplace, although it may not be possible to say “no” all the time, one should give subtle hints if one is not comfortable engaging in certain activities. Moreover, instead of getting intimidated or overwhelmed by people around you, try to adapt. For example, if you have a chatterbox as a colleague around you, then it would be wise to invest in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones.
6. Invest your energy wisely.
As Introverts, we have a fixed amount of patience and energy to deal with social engagements, be it personal or professional. It is important to invest our energies wisely. For example, if I have a big marketing event to attend in the evening, then I will try to have a peaceful and quiet morning. In addition, I rarely schedule exhausting social interactions on consecutive days. Try to pick and choose your social events, instead of attending every event that comes your way.
7. Breathe in; meditate.
There are days, when life gets overwhelming. We tend to freeze up. Taking the next step seems like a chore. Sometimes we get worked up over trivial issues, and small issues snowball into huge panic attacks . In those times, understand that it is all in your mind. Take a deep breath, and meditate on what is bothering you. Once you identify it, try to do a mental pro-con list and objectively analyze if makes sense to spend any more energy on the issue. If yes, make a note of it and decide to come back to it at a later time. If no, take another deep breath and move on.
Journaling day-to-day activities is a great way to understand your emotions and feelings. It allows you to come back to issues or conflicts that are bothersome. Having a dialogue with oneself, through journal writing, helps to arrive at surprising conclusions, ones that could never be reached while ruminating the same thoughts in your mind again and again. This extends to writing on blogs or writing books. If blogging helps you to establish a presence in the online world, and then extend those relationships in the real world, then all power be to you.
9. Schedule some “me time.”
As Introverts, we need our time and space to recharge ourselves. It is fine to stay at home to clean your apartment or room of all the unwanted clutter. In this way, we make sure that our environment is safe and nurturing for us. Similarly, one can go out for a walk or a run. This provides the needed solitude required to recharge, along with the added benefit of releasing endorphins that make you feel great. Do whatever works for you, and make sure that others do not encroach on your “me time.”
10. Be yourself.
We introverts have feelings and emotions to hide away from everything and everyone around us. Part of the reason might be that we do not like to explain ourselves or our actions to others. However, these are not healthy feelings. At best, they work contribute to ostracizing ourselves from the world. And for most of us, this is not our final aim. Instead, one needs to understand and celebrate the traits that make you an introvert. Sooner rather than later, you should realize that the traits that made you seem out of place earlier are the ones that help you to be successful in life.
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
How did I do?
Are there any areas for improvement?
Did I sound or look stressed?
Did I stumble on my words? Why?
Was I saying “um” too often?
How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too: