Q: I’m a textbook introvert, but I still have things to say and thoughts I want to communicate. I find it especially hard in class or in any other public setting. How can I get better at this?
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A: How do you get better at anything? Practice.
Introverts tend to prefer to deal with people one-on-one, but of course life won’t always allow that. Don’t let your shyness strip you of your voice. You have things to say that deserve to be heard.
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The first step to getting more practice in speaking in public is accepting that it’s going to feel weird. It just is. You’re going to be uncomfortable, and that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. I hope that when you raise your hand and offer that insightful analysis of Wuthering Heights, that discomfort will be replaced by a swell of pride. You did it, and you can do it again.
It may help you to be extra prepared for your class or meeting. Plot out what you want to say. Write notes, if that doesn’t throw you off. If you’re confident about what you want to communicate, there’s less of a chance that you’ll freeze when you start to speak.
The world will be poorer without your contributions. So do your best to put those ahead of your fear. And though you may never love speaking in public, you’ll be able to manage it when the time comes.
If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.