Public Speaking for Introverted Project Managers

By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D.

As a project manager, you’re probably expected to make a lot of presentations. But what if you’re an introvert by nature? No worries—in fact, you may be surprised to learn that your introverted temperament can be a real asset.

Odds are, you “think first, talk later”—a key characteristic of introverts. Such care and consideration can help drive you to prepare—thoughtfully and thoroughly—and, in doing so, feel more confident and at ease, not just with your material, but with your audience as well.

So, for your next presentation, leverage your unique skills and strengths, as a “quiet” project manager, to prepare and practice. Start by asking yourself three fundamental questions:

1.  What is the purpose of my presentation?

Tip: Determine if your goal is to inform, persuade, educate, or motivate.

2.  Why should my audience care about what I have to say?

Tip: Do your homework on current challenges and opportunities—within your group or company-wide—and figure out how to address them early and often.

3.  What are the three major points I need or want to make?

Tip: Resist information overload. (Less is more!) Focus on your key points, and whenever possible, use examples and anecdotes to bring them to life.

Finally, ask yourself, “Am I building in time to relax?”—an important lesson I had to learn myself. Early in my career as a corporate trainer, I spent days preparing for one presentation. I studiously learned my material, worked to anticipate every question, and was determined to enter the room as “the expert.” Before the program, a presentation coach my company had hired saw my tenseness and gently said, “Jennifer, you know this material. Now relax and enjoy the experience.” Those words of wisdom have stuck with me over the years—and now I share them with you.

One Response to “Public Speaking for Introverted Project Managers”

  1. Cathy Robinson says:

    Great article!

    I joined Toastmasters to help with the fear of public speaking (the #1 fear even greater than death for most people!), and to gain better communicating skills both verbal and non-verbal.

    I would encourage anyone not to let the fear of speaking in public hold you back. Join Toastmasters or other support groups. I am certainly glad I did and it opens up new career opportunties you did not think were possible when you learn to communicate fast on your feet.

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