The military has a way of teaching folks how to speak publicly. Repetitive briefing will improve your skills. Thanks to a boss who was unrelentingly critical, I learned the below lessons the hard way:
The three best pieces of advice ever doled out in the Esquire offices:
1. The subject can be boring, but the story cannot be boring.
2. You’re in charge of the story.
3. People won’t miss what isn’t there.
I also always make sure I know what I am briefing. If I don’t understand something, I don’t talk about it. Not publicly at least. There is nothing worse than someone fumbling around not knowing his/her subject. As for being shy:
“When we have people give talks in shyness groups, they often do much better than they thought they did. There’s a tendency to underrate your performance when you’re feeling shy,” says Dr. Lynne Henderson, director of the Shyness Institute, a nonprofit in Berkeley, Calif., that’s dedicated to researching and developing manuals on social anxiety.
The Shyness Institute? In Berkeley? Never heard of it.
I respect shyness, at least in measured doses. Not in an overwhelming way, but a little shyness shows humility or decency. I am wary of those who are always extroverted. How are they when they are not “on?” Likewise, I am wary of those who are always introverted. Introspection is fine, but you have to talk sometime. Sharing yourself shows you are not selfish and completely self-absorbed.
It is all a question of balance. My rule of thumb: be extroverted when around people and know when to get away. There is nothing worse than feeling introverted when in a group. Or feeling extroverted when not in a crowd. People who experience the latter symptom often turn to devious means to satisfy their primordial urges. Like blogging. . .