On the surface it might appear that people who are extroverts have the edge.  However, as I know from personal experience (from school days onwards), those of us with a predisposition for introversion can become excellent speakers too.

It's important to remember that shyness and introversion are not synonymous. Introversion refers to a particular way we energise ourselves. Whereas extroverts are energised by being around people, introverts can also enjoy the company of others, but this uses up their energy. A moment will come when they need to go elsewhere to recharge.

An accomplished public speaker taught me that authenticity is for all successful orators. So, rather than thinking of my introversion as an impediment, I started to actively look for ways to turn this trait into an asset.

When I started practising public speaking in a safe and supportive environment, I discovered lots of ways to channel my introverted behaviour and boost my confidence. Let me share some toolkit tips that I hope will be helpful to fellow introverts!

Speak from the Heart

The world is full of great introverted public speakers, but their introversion is rarely noticed. Barack Obama is just one of many high-profile introverted orators who overcame public speaking anxiety by focusing on a central theme, cause or mission that had greater importance than his own nerves.

When you talk passionately about a subject, not only is the content easier to remember, but it helps you feel more confident too.

Start preparing right away

Take your time to prepare a structured and well-crafted speech, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Research your intended audience and make sure you structure the speech for their benefit rather than yours. This preparatory process is excellent for calming the nerves of an introvert, as it provides the infrastructure for a speech that acts like a virtual ‘comfort blanket' for when you are both rehearsing and delivering your talk.

My first talk took eight weeks to construct, it now takes about four. Even though subject material can vary widely, I have identified certain themes and structures that work well for me, such as starting with an open question for the audience or including a call to action at the end of a speech.

Develop your performance skills

Become familiar with the content, the pace and style of your speech, by practicing frequently. Include practice in front of a mirror, onto a mobile device and in front of a couple of carefully chosen friendly faces. This enables an introvert to convert their speech into a performance, allowing them to develop a suitable persona that gives them the necessary inner-confidence to step into the limelight.

I like to think of my public speaking persona as my more confident (and slightly extrovert) virtual twin - still recognisably me, but with a few less introverted characteristics. It wasn't until I started recording my rehearsal speeches that I noticed crutch and filler words such as ‘err' and ‘so' and a rather subtle but annoying gentle smacking of the lips as I pondered my next points. I'm now working on reducing these.


You can control the negative and catastrophising elements of your brain, by literally visualising helpful cues and positive images to create a more conducive environment in which to carry out your performance. This helps combat the natural tendency of introverts to want to escape from a position of vulnerability and exposure.

For one of my early talks, a more experienced public speaker shared a popular visualisation technique, to turn the heads of an audience into cabbages, but I found this too distracting. However, for me, I found turning them into friendly emojis made all the difference!

Learning Mindset

Treat your public speaking engagements as ongoing learning opportunities. For me, public speaking is rather like trying to master a traditional craft that requires continual practicing, nurturing and refinement. This longer-term approach suits introverts well, as they have a tendency to be over-critical of themselves and can easily undermine their confidence at an early stage.

I have found it really useful to occasionally have a friend in the audience, tucked away from my direct line of sight, who can help me review my speech afterwards in a constructive way over a cup of coffee.


Extroverts and introverts alike will experience a surge of adrenalin and be rewarded with dopamine after a successful speech. However, as an introvert, it's important to recognise the drain on your energy. Always build in quality time to allow you to re-energise afterwards, preferably on your own.

We tend to think of presentations as requiring bombast and bravery. The good news is that following these tips, preparing and developing your technique will take the introvert to a presentation with genuine applause!