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  • Writer's pictureShelley Bamberger

How Great Speakers Engage an Introverted Audience

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Picture this: you’re pouring out your heart and soul – delivering vital information to an audience that desperately needs it. Yet, they are silent and expressionless.

Not to worry. In meetings and presentations, every audience is different.

A room full of sales and marketing people often equals:

+ tons of smiles

+ lively discussion

+ eager responses to your questions

But what if your audience is comprised of introverts or bookish intellectuals? Or what if they’re rocket scientists, engineers, R&D types?

These audiences often seem:

+ less energetic

+ less engaged

+ less responsive

Based on much personal experience, we urge you: Never assume that – because they’re quiet – the audience isn’t learning / appreciating / enjoying your presentation.

Here are some insights that may help you understand them better.

  1. Often, introverts “think they are participating.” Since they are naturally hesitant to respond, uttering even a few words will seem like a lot to them. Also, since they don’t want attention, they may not be forthcoming in discussions or exercises.

  2. Don’t judge your audience based on their facial expressions and animated body language. These responses will vary with (a) personalities (2) moods (3) outside distractions and (4) relevance of your content to their needs.

  3. Participation will vary. In most cases, the extroverts will talk too much. The introverts will not talk enough. Yet, evaluation sheets often show that the quiet ones learned as much, if not more, than the extroverts.

What can you do to engage quiet audiences? Here are 6 techniques that have worked well in both in-person and virtual environments.

  1. Lob some easy questions or opinion questions to individual participants. Thank them (authentically) for their responses.

  2. Ask your questions slowly, adding unnecessary details. This gives your introverts a moment to collect their thoughts and formulate an answer.

  3. In exercises, ask the introverts to report out. This is usually confidence-building, provided it’s done in a non-threatening environment.

  4. For new projects, pair extroverts with introverts. The “loud ones” will often draw out the quiet ones.

  5. For projects in their wheelhouses, pair introverts with introverts. One will often rise to fill the needed extrovert role.

  6. Create exercises to stimulate physical movement – like breakouts or role plays. Introverts talk more and respond more deeply when they're moving.

Your role is to know your audience in advance. Be prepared for introverted engineers or raucous sales & marketing groups.

Recognize that every audience is different and that every audience member may be different. Then interact with them in authentic, non-patronizing ways. This will bring out the best in them – and in YOU. They will like you, and maybe even love you.

Need some help with this skill? Contact us:

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