What Rehearsing Does for Introverts, Extroverts

You’ve heard the key to speaking well is in preparation, right? Well some think preparation means planning, and only that. Others think planning means coming up with an idea to share.

Imagine the following scenario:

John shows up ready to speak with his detailed notes in front of him. He has proof that he has planned. But once he starts speaking he gets caught. His words are cumbersome. They are “writing” words vs. “speaking” words. As he speaks he realizes this and forces himself into his head to work it out. He can’t quickly do this so he sticks with his plan. (In many cases, I advise speakers to stick with their plan. If they have rehearsed it. Clearly John has not.)

In the meantime, he puts pressure on his listeners to work hard to keep up with him. Not only to get past the cumbersome language but also to get past the fact that John is making no effort to connect with them. He is looking at his notes, relying on them because he is not rehearsed.

John is an example of what can happen to introverts. They relish planning. They appreciate structure. But they may not take the time to rehearse. In this way, they have just encountered a barrier to public speaking effectiveness.

Let’s switch to an extrovert scenario:

Jane shows up ready to speak, eager and focused on the idea in her mind. Her eagerness is proof that she is planned. She starts speaking to engage her own thinking process and soon encounters many options. For as she speaks, several ideas come to mind. Now Jane is caught. So many directions to take – which should she choose? She starts down one path and then interrupts herself. She backs up, then she finds herself in another area of focus. She is looking at the audience and discovers raised eyebrows, some head nods, and some looks of concerns. She knows she has created a tangled loop of commentary and needs to do something.

She chooses to say, “That’s all.” She sits down knowing she has no idea what she just said other than she wonders whether it made any sense. This can happen to extroverts. They despise planning because to them this means writing something down. Speaking is what allows them to think.

How rehearsing helps both the introvert and the extrovert improve their scenario successes:

When introverts rehearse

1. to experiment with getting their words to flow, they practice the mental to oral process. This practice firms up their mental responses, giving them a history to recall when it’s time for them to speak.

2.putting bullet points on paper vs. scripts or detailed outlines gives them a chance to practice bringing their ideas to life orally.

3. looking at their listeners, they get used to being present while also staying on message.

When extroverts rehearse

1. by speaking aloud their thoughts in advance, they can then gather them.

2. by sharing relevant stories, they can rein in the focus on what’s most important.

3. to uncover the introduction, body and conclusion, they get used to framing their message and then circling back to that frame when they conclude.

Both introverts and extroverts provide value to listeners. Yet both encounter barrier problems that rehearsals can help them correct. That is the key to speaking well.

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