Biz Features

Pitch Perfect – 8 Presentation Psychology Hacks for Introvert Entrepreneurs

by . August 3rd, 2013

…That ANYONE can do!

I hate the thought of having to talk to someone if I don’t have to. Contrary to what a lot of people here at UPrinting think, I don’t hate everyone in general. I love helping other people learn and seeing them grow. I can do small talk as well as anyone else, but after a couple of hours it gets too exhausting.

Introvert via PhotoPin CC

Like many of you, I’m an introvert. You might expect most entrepreneurs to be extroverts, but that simply isn’t true. You just see extroverts more often. While I occasionally envy extroverts for seemingly being able to draw energy from being with a lot people, it usually isn’t much of a problem.

Introverts tend to be less likely to start businesses like PR firms, and are more likely to go into tech or something esoteric and less visible. No problem unless until you’re expected to mingle with people. Or deliver a presentation to a potential client.

Time will be your best teacher. Do enough of these pitches, and you’ll find your own groove.

But if you’re a newbie, or still have problems with presenting pitches – here are a few things you can do NOW:

8.) Maintain Proper Posture

Doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Maintaining proper posture isn’t just good for your back, it’s a great way of passively communicating confidence.

While everyone knows that having good posture improves other people’s perception of you, it can also improve your perception of yourself.

Maintaining proper posture helps keep you confident, and makes it easier to talk from your diaphragm instead of your throat, helping project your voice and making you sound more confident.

Posture via Wikimedia CC
If you have problems maintaining proper posture, here’s a few things you can try:

  • Condition yourself to fix your posture every time you do a certain action- such as walking through a doorway, or see someone take a sip from a mug. Or you can think of a person you despise with bad posture and tell yourself you don’t want to be that person. Whatever works.
  • Imagine that there’s a string running vertically through your spine and that you’re constantly suspended like a puppet.
  • Swimming  regularly will naturally improve your posture. The keyword is regularly as it’s easy to lapse when you skip a few weeks.
  • Optimize your work space so that you’re forced to sit up straight. If you always use a computer, position your monitor so that the top roughly corresponds with your eye level, looking straight forward. Make sure to adjust your keyboard distance so your elbows are at your sides when typing to avoid rolled shoulders. Make sure your feet can rest flat on the floor when you type. OR just get a standing desk.
  • Set a silent alarm every 45 minutes to remind you to improve your posture.

Give these some time, and you should find it much easier to keep a proper posture and project the confidence everyone thinks your formerly slouchy self lacked.

Our brains work in a funny way. Faking good posture will precondition you to feel more confident. The same thing happens when you…

7.) Smile!

Cracking a smile will not only help elevate your mood, it can help put other people at ease. Even an obviously fake smile will do the same. People have been putting on their “game faces” well before this psychological phenomenon – emotional feedback looping–  was identified.

Posture via Wikimedia CC

My guess is this is a fake smile. What do you think?

There is such a strong correlation with emotions and facial  and body expressions that many Botox recipients and accident victims with serious facial disfigurement report a change in moods, often becoming more unemotional after they take treatments.

So smile, even if you don’t feel like it. It’s good for your pitch.

6.) Dress (and Groom) for Success

In an ideal world, appearances wouldn’t matter. This isn’t an ideal world. As with your smiles and posture, how you dress will also affect your own behavior. You don’t always want to dress much better than whoever you’re making a pitch to, because that may signal dominance – which you want usually want to avoid.

Suits via Wikimedia commons
Dating site writer Chase Amante explains “when someone sees you as being equal to or lower than them, and they detect you doing something that they aren’t doing that gives you an advantage, they get upset. Their world is being turned upside down, and they want to get things back in order again.”

Don’t mistake this for irrelevance. Dating advice sites hold a wealth of info on how to really understand people, and on practical social engineering and manipulation. Exactly what you need to really sell an idea.

Going back to the main point, dress to project confidence, but not so confidently that other people feel subconsciously threatened.

Gorilla Suit via Wikimedia commons

Definitely threatening

Guys may also want to consider if they look friendlier or more trustworthy without a beard. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, if in doubt – shave.

Entrepreneur.com’s take on dressing for success

5.) Keep it (a bit) Casual

No matter how important they are, try to keep a friendly – but not overly familiar – demeanor. One way you can do this is to ask your potential client or audience questions. This not only takes some of the focus off of yourself -it helps you to better understand what they are looking for. This way you could adjust your pitch accordingly.

This means though, that your pitch shouldn’t be from a script. If it is, try not to make it too obvious.

4.) Don’t go it Alone

iwinatcookie via photopin cc

Have a friend or a business partner help you prepare, and if possible perform the pitch with you. There’s no rule in most instances about needing to do a pitch alone, so if you think you need help – get it! There’s safety in numbers, and doing your pitch in pairs (larger groups start to get a bit too much) will help take some of the load off you.

It needs to be said you need a partner that can complement you, not weigh you down – so don’t bring anyone along just because you’re comfortable around them.

3.) Use Short Sentences

I’m an introvert myself. When I get nervous, I tend to ramble on about stuff. It helps to make a conscious effort to keep statements short and direct. Shorter statements tend to “sound” like they have more power. Even the Spartans understood this.

Here’s a list of surprisingly amusing examples of Spartan wit

One suggested method is to practice your “elevator pitch“.  It’s exactly like it sounds, a pitch you can make in a span of an elevator ride. Remove all the fluff, and keep it interesting. You can use this same pitch or modify it to “frame” the rest of the presentation, so it stays on track.

By getting straight to the point, you spend a lot less time being anxious – and sound like you mean serious business at the same time.

2.) Practice in Front of a Mirror

Unless we’re constantly taking videos or selfies of ourselves, most of us don’t really know what we look like when we’re doing something . We’re pretty bad at knowing what we look like.

Take a cue from actors, politicians, dancers, and pro athletes and do your pitch in front of a mirror. I’d suggest privately, so you don’t look like a crazy person.

DerrickT via photopin cc

A couple of problems here

Take note of any mannerisms you think might be a problem and work on them. Another thing you can do is take video of yourself running through a pitch. Reviewing it can also help you figure out if how you talk or sound is a problem.

1.) Know Your Stuff !

The best confidence booster is knowing exactly what you’re talking about. This shouldn’t be much of a problem if you developed the concept yourself.

Knowing your stuff doesn’t mean pretending you know everything. Or that you actually do.  It means you are able to acknowledge when you don’t have an answer – and still come off as someone who can get the answers your potential client wants.

None of these tips requires a significant investment in time or money. They’re all things you can do right now and should make it a bit easier for introvert entreps to survive their first few presentations.

Sources and Additional Reading

Facial feedback hypothesis – Wikipedia.org

Presentation Skills For Introverts – Making it Anywhere

Presentation Skills-For Introverts: Full Tilt Boogie – Psychology Today

Presentation Psychology – Killer Presentations

How To Use Introversion For Career And Personal Success – LifeHacker

7 Success Tips For Introverts – Psychology Today

Image Credits

DerrickT via photopin cc

iwinatcookie via photopin cc

The following are via Wikimedia Commons:

GabbielSan – Exclamation Point

Kristian Bjornard – Business Suit vs Sweatsuit

Internets dairy – Gorilla Suit

Skoivuma – Posture

Steve Evans – Smile

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