The problems of a introvert

If you are an introvert, you may have the heart of a strong woman, but no one else may know it if you are not able to express what you think and feel. Susan B. Anthony, a great leader and speaker for women's rights, was an introvert. Yet she realized her message was more important than her own initial discomfort when she first started speaking.

Though I have always been a fairly quiet person, I too have ideas that are worth expressing. While I am fairly reflective and don't blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, I do want to communicate and connect with others. That's why I initially made a commitment to study communication and public speaking. I've taught public speaking and other college communication courses for about 20 years. Here are a few tips for women who want to speak but don't know how to break out of their shells:

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1. Learn to think in patterns . Thinking in patterns will help you pour your ideas into some kind of structure. Just like writing, formal speaking generally involves an introduction, body, and conclusion. However, speeches tend to be more structured than writing. As speakers, we often give an overview of each point we will address. Then we often give the audience a "heads up" when getting ready to discuss a main point. We might say something like, "First, let's look at some patterns for speaking" After discussing a point, the speaker then may say something like, "Now that we've talked about some useful patterns, our next task will be to use" When we wrap up our talk, we then briefly recap each point and close with something memorable or with a challenge. Common patterns include: the topical format; past, present, future; chronological organization, or problem / solution.

Our brains are basically pattern detectors. If you use familiar patterns when speaking, your audience will follow along more easily, and you will be able to remember what you want to say without getting too bogged down or wordy. Thinking in patterns has helped me immensely when I need to "think on my feet."

2. Understand the difference between oral and written communication. Oral communication uses more contractions and shorter sentences.Use language that is familiar to your audience. Speaking is not reading or memorizing what you have written. Your presentations should sound natural and conversational. If you can learn to speak from an outline rather than a script, you will eventually develop a style that will sound natural.

3. Consider how you use your physical space: If you happen to be somewhat small or feel smaller than others, plant your feet at shoulder width. Women tend to use less space than men. I think those of us who tend to be a bit introverted could easily just curl up and disappear if left to our own natural responses.I consciously make an effort to use more space to project presence. Because I am naturally a bit reserved, I learned years ago that I also had to change my posture. Rather than standing as rigid as a board, I've learned to lean into my audience ever so slightly. I also move around the audience a bit when appropriate to create a sense of connection.

4. Use eye contact as appropriate : In Western culture, eye contact is valued as a way to demonstrate trustworthiness and to make a connection. It may seem unnerving at first, but practice looking around the room, connecting with different individuals and portions of your audience for a brief moment at a time. By doing so, you are inviting others to connect with your message.

5. If it seems scary to put yourself "out there," practice psyching yourself up. Visualize yourself being successful. Think about the importance of your message and how your audience will benefit from what you have to say. Use your body to give you a confidence boost. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy offers great insights on how our body language changes the way others perceive us and how it changes our own perceptions about ourselves. http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en

As women, we cannot afford to sit back and let other more dominant individuals speak for us. We must be willing to speak our own truths in our own voices.

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Posted in Business Post Date 10/21/2019


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