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Public Speaking as an Introvert – It’s About the Message

Yesterday I blogged about an interview with Kevin Briggs, who is a suicide prevention advocate who used to be a patrolman on the Golden gate bridge.

Obviously, over on that site, it was that work that was the priority, but I wanted to share something else he said in that interview, as both a blogger and a public speaker:

Given that Kevin is a self described introvert, I asked him how he manages to speak to so many large groups. His answer was simple.

“I believe in what I am talking about.”

People who don’t know me well, but know me from my blogs, or from my 5 years traveling and working as a trainer are often surprised that I describe myself as a private, introverted, person. After all, how could I be so comfortable writing and speaking if I’m truly an introvert?

That’s because it’s not about me. It’s never been about me. When I train, or when I write, I have always viewed it as “I have some knowledge, some experience, that I think other people should know about.”

That’s what got me over the fear of public speaking, which is something many of you probably have as well. I had something to say. I had learned something, and I’ve always felt an innate desire to share that knowledge. If that means putting myself out there online, or in person, so be it.

I might not have been a great speaker when I started or a great writer. I like to think over time and with practice, both have gotten better, but the reason I have shared anything had nothing to do with showing off my skills. I don’t do speaking engagements for the sake of speaking. I don’t write blog posts for the sake of writing. I do both because I’ve found something that I think other people might be interested in. If I can communicate that and be helpful to someone, that’s enough.

If you truly want to get over your fear of public speaking or writing, focus not on your presentation at first, but on having something to say. What is it that your audience can learn from you, and how can you share that with them? The presentation skills don’t need to be perfect if you’re teaching them something useful.

So, go learn something worth sharing.

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