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Are you the only introvert in the room?

Are you the only introvert in the room?


I have a very vivid memory from when I was a little girl (maybe 3 or 4). I was standing with my parents. My mom was talking with my uncle. He was (still is) a nice guy. But, at the time, he had a beard, a mustache and glasses. So, obviously, he terrified me.

I didn’t tell anyone that, though. Instead, whenever he’d speak to me (like he was in this memory), I’d just stare at him without cracking a smile, or making a sound. (I’m sure I was his favorite niece 🙂

Some may have identified me an introvert.

Fast forward to 2002 and you could find me on stage in front of hundreds of my peers, facilitating workshops and weekend retreats.

Some may have labeled me an extrovert.

What changed? Nothing about my personality. Actually, I’m still that shy and quiet girl in a lot of situations. (We’ll talk more about overcoming this feeling when it’s time to take the stage next week). Maybe, no one actually knew what I was. After all, you can’t really tell by looking at someone, or even by watching them interact.

As a speaker, it’s really easy to get lost in the “Do I feel comfortable? Is this making me nervous? How is this experience for me?” 

But, in reality, your keynote or workshop is an experience for everyone in the room. Not just you. And your audience is filled with introverts and extroverts alike, who all need to leave having had a great experience and taking along great memories from the day.

So how do you pull people out of their shell? How do you create an experience that inspires them to feel excited, and one that feels safe enough for them to speak up, laugh at your crazy jokes, smile, nod, raise their hand, and enjoy the interaction?

How do you create a truly engaging presentation that feels great for everyone (introverts and extroverts alike)?

In this post, we’ll talk about a 3 step process that’ll ease your audience into the comfort zone so they are ready to jump in, comment, laugh and cheer. The end result? A more powerful and memorable experience for all involved. Even you!

Warm them up

Some people will experience some butterflies in their bellies when an opportunity to speak in front of a crowd pops up, even if it’s just throwing out a quick answer from the crowd. This is especially true in a quiet room. Why not give them a chance to warm up? This way, they’re feeling confident – just like you!

To do this, encourage interaction right from the beginning, even before you start (officially) speaking. Interact with small groups or individuals before the event begins, or ask off the record questions to the group as you’re waiting for others to trickle in. These small, nonchalant interactions set the stage for a conversational workshop where everyone is ready to engage and speak up.

Be a mirror

Whether you’re aiming for laughter, tears, raised hands or out-loud replies, you can draw that out of your audience by doing it first. So, if you tell a joke, a chuckle might get the audience giggling. If you are telling an emotional story, and are truly sad, your audience will feel it too. Same goes with asking for interaction.

Here’s what you can do – as you’re asking the question, raise one hand – as you want the audience to if they agree. Or, nod your head. If they agree, they’ll nod back. Whatever response you would like, do it first. They’ll mimic you at first, but it’ll also warm them up so they’re more likely to respond that way later on.

It’s kind of like a rock concert. When the band wants you to clap along, they start clapping along. You start. Then they continue to play while you continue to clap.

Same thing. You’re a rock star. And your audience know it. (Tweet it. You know you love it. 🙂

Clap those hands and the audience will follow right along with you.

Give them a chance to make a friend

Everyone is more talkative when they have a friend along for the ride. During the first day of my public speaking class, I’d encourage students to make a friend. I would claim the reason as having a future study buddy (which is possible), but really, it was so that everyone in the room would feel more comfortable raising their hand, shouting out answers, and just have more fun in class.

You can do the same thing and sneak in a little social time by claiming anything from networking to idea collaboration. If they know each other, they’ll feel more comfortable joining in and interacting with you and the group.

So, what do you think? Are you an introvert? An extrovert? Or somewhere in the middle? What strategies have you used to pull others out of their shell during your presentations?



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Your turn

How do you encourage your audience to jump in and get involved? Have you seen anyone else do this effectively? I want to hear your take below in the comments!