August 5, 2012

Introverts Can Speak: The Case Of Susan Cain

Susan Cain live at TEDby Promod Sharma, CC

Do you need some time ... on your own?
Do you need some time ... all alone?
- Guns N' Roses. November Rain

Are you an introvert? That need not handicap you in public speaking. You can overcome your fears. Susan Cain did for her TED Talk based on her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Amazon link).

The Power Of Introverts

Let’s watch and then discuss.

If you didn't know that Susan’s an introvert, could you tell? I couldn’t.

As a Toastmaster, what changes would you suggest Susan make? I didn’t see anything major. Susan smiles. Her audience laughs. She pauses. She speaks clearly. Her talk is well structured. She looks natural and at ease. She creates mystery with her prop, a bag. Susan engages the audience and makes them comfortable. She moves around smoothly.

A minor quibble: I found her hand movements a tad repetitive on video but that was probably fine for the large, live audience.

The Reality

Susan looks like she’s in control and never really had problems speaking in public. That’s not the case.
“I’m told my talk received a standing ovation. My husband keeps asking what it felt like, after all the Sturm und Drang. The truth is I don’t know. I have no memory of the moment — I was too numb. That was someone else up there: my metamorphosed incarnation, the Public Introvert.“
--- Susan Cain, An Introvert Steps Out (New York Times, April 2012)
Does that surprise you?

In a fascinating article, Susan candidly explains how she prepared for her TED Talk. Joining Toastmasters was part of her process.

The Book

If you like the TED Talk, get Quiet. Susan’s book goes into much more detail. You’ll benefit even if you're an extrovert because we all know introverts.

I'm currently listening to the audio version. The narrator (Kathe Mazur) reminds me of Carolyn McCormick, who read a very different and less satisfying book, The Hunger Games. Maybe that’s because many books are narrated by men — even The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGongial (Amazon link).

I’m surprised that Susan didn’t narrate her own book. She certainly can since she speaks so well on stage. Maybe next time she will.


Promod Sharma is an introvert. Aren't most actuaries? He enjoys speaking but prefers writing. That’s why you’ll find 500+ blog posts and 180+ podcasts but only 14 videos.

No comments:

Post a Comment