When most of us think of a skilled leader, we think of someone who can command a room. We think of someone who can walk into a meeting with an agenda and walk out having convinced those at the meeting to follow them. Whether you are running a meeting or not, you can sway hearts and minds, even if you are an introvert.
When I was in college, I had a bad meeting experience as a club president. I was convinced that my poor public speaking skills were to blame. When I took a public speaking seminar, I learned that that my real problem was lack of preparation. Few people can move a meeting in the direction of their choosing without preparation. With preparation, my chances for success increased dramatically - I even won the best speaker competition at the end of that class.
My keys to success are: 1) Being emotionally involved in what I am saying, 2) Knowing what I want to say, and 3) Anticipating resistance. All of this takes preparation.
As an introvert, being emotionally involved in my topic is important because I tend to be reserved and my presentation can be flat. When I have an emotional connection to my topic, I can speak with far more persuasive energy. So when I do not feel an emotional connection to my topic, I find a way to think about it in a way that gets my emotional juices flowing.
Since I never have been especially glib, preparing my points in advance ensures that when I speak I have the confidence that I am saying what I want to say in the way that I want to present it, and that I haven’t forgotten anything. Practice is important. If I have an important message, I practice it so that it flows.
Finally, anticipating resistance makes me better able to counter arguments that others may offer. Sometimes, thinking about resistance improves the arguments that I make in the first place.
As introverts, preparation is something that we do well. We need to use that strength to help us in areas where we are not as naturally proficient. I have found that even when I am not running a meeting, with the right preparation, I can command the room. I’m sure that you can too.
QUESTION: What tips can you share about commanding the room?