by Art Piccio . August 3rd, 2013
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.
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:
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.
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