Public Speaking As An Introvert

I grew up as an introvert. I was very shy and quiet. Because of this, I absolutely dreaded speaking in public. School assignments involving public speaking were the worst. I would have preferred being stranded on an island all alone than speak to a small group of my peers. I remember for every speaking assignment, my mind would go blank and I would freeze up. I could only hear the faint beat of my heart and feel sweat build up on my palms. I was never able to deliver the message the way I wanted to and this cycle continued to repeat itself throughout high school. Although I became marginally better each time due to repetition, I still hated public speaking and would avoid it whenever possible.

As a business major at Point Loma Nazarene University, I was required to take a course called Business Communication, designed to teach me how to write effective resumes and cover letters and give me a template to follow when public speaking. Little did I know at the time that this class would also spark a change of trajectory in my life with a single assignment.

For this assignment, my professor, Kim Hogelucht, challenged me to perform 'information interviews'. An information interview is the practice of interviewing people of great power and success such as C-level executives, business owners, and decision makers. The purpose of an information interview is to learn about the person’s story, their industry, and to build a relationship with them.

I decided to take the challenge and mustered up the courage to call local business owners in San Diego and ask if I could buy them a cup of coffee for 15 minutes of their time to pick their brain. After leaving many unanswered voicemails and “No”s, I quickly learned the difficulty of contacting these business owners. Regardless, I continued to call until I had success, and conducted my first few interviews. With each interview, I learned of real-world business practices and strategies, but beyond that I was able to get out of my comfort zone. This greatly enhanced my confidence and improved my ability to communicate effectively to others. I learned how to ask the right questions and each interviewee made me feel important, growing my confidence. Without knowing, I had become no longer shy or timid. I began to enjoy taking on challenges and looking for ways to improving myself.

With newfound inspiration and practice, I became an effective public speaker in a relatively short time. Now instead of dreading speaking in public, I am excited to speak in public. I began to see what I feared most as the fuel to improve and make myself better.

This all started from a single assignment which challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone.

I want to end this post with a few questions to ask yourself. Am I living the life I want to live? Am I afraid and living in my comfort zone? What actions do I need to make right now to begin to live the life I want to live?

Michael Gonzales is from San Diego and is an entrepreneur at heart. He spends most of his time learning how to combine his passion for God, people and business. The rest of the time he spends traveling across America empowering teams and opening brand new Chick-fil-A restaurants.