The Wrong Feedback – Dangerous to Introvert Speakers

Introverts have what it takes to speak well. And just like extroverts, they need constructive feedback to improve and stay motivated to speak in front of groups. Unfortunately they are frequently compared to extroverts. And even more often, they compare themselves to extroverts dismissing their own value.

Introverts are dismissive of their value when they say to themselves things like, “Why can’t I be as energetic and engaging as that extrovert?” Looking around at audiences that appreciate these qualities, they may decide they don’t have anything to offer. But they do. Introverts are often thoroughly grounded in their subject matter. They care about being meaningful and handle extreme circumstances calmly.

Effective presentations need these qualities: the message needs to be novel, clear and relevant. That’s it. Introverts have the capacity to accomplish these qualities.

Depending on our communication style as listeners, we can jump to conclusions about what a speaker needs to be or to do. Extroverted listeners appreciate energy, getting to the point and strong eye contact, for example. When they don’t get these things from introverts, extroverts quickly (extroverts move and speak quickly) tell them they must add these things. And if introverts don’t feel they are capable, they question their abilities to speak well.

Yet just as there are things extroverts do better than introverts as public speakers,  there are a few things introverts do much better than extroverts, as well. They create sound arguments, share knowledge thoroughly and use solid structure.

Tell an extrovert your feedback and it is just that – feedback. Tell an introvert your feedback and it can shut them down completely.

The wrong feedback keeps us pigeonholed.  When we begin suggesting things based on our opinions of the speaker’s delivery style, and their style is opposite ours, there is a problem. This can lead to our saying extroverts work for laughs, speak too loud or lack organizational structure. Or that introverts avoid eye contact, mumble and give too many facts. When we offer feedback that begins with delivery suggestions, speakers get defensive and may dismiss the feedback or be stifled by it.

Yet we know both introverts and extroverts contribute to the pool of great speakers when they break out of the above mold and work at the three presentation needs – clarity, relevance and novelty. They engage listeners, often changing things up. Extroverts can be soft-spoken at times. Introverts can get really jazzed about their topic. What contributes to this change is one thing – they have been the recipients of good feedback.

What is good public speaking feedback? Feedback that recognizes their public speaking value, first.  While this simply affirms the extrovert, the introvert has now heard something new. Second, feedback that suggests they continue to speak because they have what their listeners need – relevance, novelty or clarity. Once again, extroverts are encouraged, yet the introvert is now motivated. Thirdly, feedback that encourages them to tweak one small thing – message effectiveness, audience engagement or confidence.

At this point you have the ears of both speaker types and will start seeing growth in them as presenters. They will get creative with their message, stretch their delivery muscles and fine-tune their relationship to the audience. Now they know their value and are motivated to speak. They will do what it takes to make it worth their time.

Want to assist your public speakers? Give them good feedback.

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