In this article, Communication Coach Jon Torrens explains how different speaking styles can work.
Introverts can communicate effectively, too
In many video games and role-playing board games, you can choose what type of character to portray. For example, in a military or fantasy game, you will probably see these roles:
- Heavy/Warrior (AKA ‘Tank’): big, slow and powerful, you can deal out lots of damage, take lots of damage, but not a lot else. I see this character as one for the extraverts, where you charge in without much of a plan and simply react to what happens. Rarrr!
- Sniper/Archer: light and quick, you can pick enemies off at distance but also deal out a little slice-and-dice at close quarters when you need to. I see this character as ideal for the introverts; you like to hang back, select a strategy, then choose your moment and… bang. Your victim never knew what hit ’em.
- Engineer/Medic: a support class, supplying vital medical help or technical assistance. With little offensive or defensive ability, you’re actually pretty useless in combat. However, you help achieve victory indirectly: healing allies, opening gates or setting traps. I see this character as also being for the introverts; avoiding direct conflict, but the ability to have as great an impact as anyone else.
The list can continue, with commanders, mages, infiltrators and so on. Another example would be a driving game: you can choose from various cars, each with a particular value for acceleration, top speed, toughness, tyre grippiness* etc. The point is:
Playing to your strengths is vital for the best chance of success, especially when it comes to your communication.
With character classes, there’s something for everyone. And the more introverted among us might find that one of these skillsets reflects the communication style which enables us to do our best:
- Performer: typically not a fan of preparation, you like to freestyle the presentation, have a meeting with no agenda and generally shake things up and just see what happens. With some planning, this technique can be very effective. Without the necessary structure, however, it can fall flat.
- Writer: you love crafting a strong message, an interesting story and you really want to deliver something of substance. You’re hoping the words will be enough, but you don’t want to undergo the practical speaking experience which will help you deliver something effective, that really persuades and changes minds.
- Technician: you want to cleverly distract the audience by creating visuals of such staggering beauty that the audience forgets the speaker (and possibly why they’re even watching in the first place). Seduced by the slides, the audience member wanders away in glorious optical intoxication. This doesn’t ever happen, obviously. You’ve fallen in love with the tech (I give it six months).
* ‘Tyre grippiness’ is the correct** term
** Alright, it’s not, but it should be.
- Performer: do your preparation. It’ll balance out your wonderful improvisation skills and make you look like you care (and you do care, right?). I know you hate rehearsing, but just run through it a few times. OK, twice. Alright, once. But at full volume and pace, please. And don’t stop when you make a mistake, either. Then you’ll be battle-ready.
- Writer: you’ve created the heart and substance of the piece, but you owe it to yourself – and the material – to bring it to life with some passion. A script is nothing until the actor delivers it. (And vice versa, you performers.) Show that this stuff matters! Rehearse until the words flow from your mind and out of your mouth naturally.
- Technician: a little like the Writer, you need to realise that the material isn’t everything. Yes, they may admire your images and gawp at your exquisite typography, but that’s only half the package. Get rehearsing, because you must know how to deliver your piece without your slides.One day your slides will fail. I guarantee it. (They don’t love you the same way you love them. Sorry. It was never going to work.)
There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ style for effective communication. Introverted or extraverted, you can communicate just as well as everyone else; you just need to recognise your own style and balance it out with the other abilities to make a well-rounded skillset.
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Using my experience as an introvert, stand-up comic and video games designer, I deliver short, fun but effective training to create successful, confident speakers. I work with both companies and individuals.
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