I spend a lot of time in front of a group; but truth be told, I’m an introvert.
If I’m given the choice of being in a large, social setting or having a quiet conversation with a couple of colleagues, I’ll choose the quiet conversation every time. Sometimes, it seems like being a presenter, facilitator, trainer…whatever you want to call it…is an odd choice for someone who doesn’t necessarily crave the spotlight, but I really love presenting…facilitating…training.
Some time ago, I saw this great TED talk, featuring Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Her talk resonated with me and made me think about my role as a facilitator; if you aren’t one of the 8.1 million people who have already watched this talk, you can see it here:
(If you’re on a mobile device, this link might work best)
Good stuff, eh? Maybe even more than the actual content Ms. Cain delivered in this TED talk, I was intrigued by her presentation style. She is an introvert, yet she was a dynamic presenter. If she can do it with such grace and presence, so can the rest of us introverted facilitators around the world!
**shakes fist in the air!**
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this topic lately, and here’s my big takeaway:
Introverts are just as good at presenting as extroverts. (Take that, extroverts!)
The challenge for many introverts is the stigma of being “on stage,” the center of attention. Here are 3 quick tips to help an introvert be more comfortable while presenting:
1. Remember, it’s about your audience, not about you.
When you are leading a session, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s always about THEM. For those of us who don’t exactly like to be the center of attention, this is a comforting thought. A skilled facilitator keeps the audience in mind. When the focus is on them, you feel less like the spotlight is on you.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare (and then prepare a little more).
This is simple. The more comfortable you are with your content, the more confident you will feel as you facilitate. That confidence will help carry you through the awkwardness of being front-and-center.
3. Use your introversion to your advantage.
Many (though not all!) introverts are intuitive and good listeners. If this describes you, use that intuition to read your audience! Listen up, and truly dial into your participants’ needs throughout your session. Your attendees will notice and appreciate the attention you’re giving.
Although I am an admitted introvert, I’m not an expert. So, here are a few interesting resources that I came across while writing this post. It’s a fascinating topic, and one to which both facilitators and lifelong learners can relate. Enjoy!
Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts
Dr. Michelle Mazur – Introverts Make the Best Speakers
Mashable – Stop Treating Introversion Like a Trend
Skip Prichard – How Introverts Can Be Great Leaders
Susan Steele – Quietly Fabulous
Your turn: Are you an introvert? Have you found this to be a challenge when you facilitate? How do you use your introversion to an advantage? Share your story in the comments below!
Know of an introvert who might benefit from the resources in this post? Be kind and share it!
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7 thoughts on “The Introvert’s Guide to Being an Awesome Facilitator”
I’m an introvert (and also a big fan of Susan Cain) that enjoys presenting and facilitating. I’ve found my introversion to be more of a challenge when working in groups, rather than speaking to groups.
That’s really interesting, Traci! I can relate. In fact, I told my boss recently that when I’m in a group setting (attending, not leading), I don’t like raising my hand to ask/answer a question…it just doesn’t come naturally to me. He was surprised because I’m not necessarily “shy” and I’m often in front of a group. I just find myself to be more of an observer in those settings, unless they are small group (2-4 people) exercises. Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing!
I agree with you, Traci. I am also an introvert, and I find that speaking in small groups is much more challenging that working with large ones. In my facilitator mode, I know I am the expert and I command attention. That is not the case when networking at a conference, for example.
Another resource I’d add to your list is The Introvert Advantage by Dr Marti Olsen Laney. It is a short, quick read that focuses on practical advice for introverts.
Hi Rajan – thank you for your comment, and for sharing this resource!
Thanks Rajan. Looking forward to checking this out.