If you’re an introvert, standing up in front of a crowd of people (or even a couple of colleagues) can be a challenge. And it’s no wonder, because if you would rather hide under your desk than talk in front of a crowd of people, public speaking can be really nerve-wracking.

As an introvert myself, empowering people to speak up and bring their ideas to the table is something I am hugely passionate about.

Below are strategies that introverts can use to build their confidence and grow their professional presence.

1) Planning is your friend.

Introverts generally do better when they’re prepared. Spending a few minutes up front preparing will make a huge difference when you’re speaking in front of other people.

Start by getting really clear on what you want your audience to walk away with.

It’s important to think about your topic from the audience’s perspective. I like to use this template to help my clients set their objectives:

At the end of my presentation, I want the audience to remember ______ and/or take action step ______.

2) Map out your speaking points.

Take a moment to jot down your two or three most important points. If you have more than three, narrow them down. Sharing too much information will overwhelm your audience. You need to focus or you risk your audience not remembering anything at all.

Even if you prefer to improvise, a few minutes of planning can go a long way. It will help you stay on message and play in the moment.

3) Use your strengths.

If you’re quiet by nature, don’t feel like you need to be a big, charismatic performer. Instead, lean into your strengths.

If listening, rather than speaking, is your greatest strength, fret not. Know that it’s a really powerful skill to be able to tap into your audience.

If you’re not sure what your strengths are, you can start here.

4) Mindset is everything.

If you’re worried about worst-case scenarios, you’re going to look and feel more nervous than you want.

Instead, focus on your objective and what you want to accomplish. It’s much easier to connect with the people in front of you when you get out of your own head and think about the gift you can give by sharing your ideas.

If you’ve been asked to lead the presentation or give a talk, you’ve earned the right to be there, even if you don’t feel ready.

And while you may not relish the spotlight, remember that people are looking at you because they want to hear from you, not because they’re waiting for you to fail.

5) Practice, practice, practice.

Practice out loud. Practice more than once.

Don’t just read your notes to yourself. Read them out loud.

Do a thorough run-through in front of other people, for your dog, in front of your kids, or on the subway.

But no matter what, make sure you practice.

Originally published on Ellevate.

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