You’re telling the room: any type can do anything. Personality theory is about understanding yourself better, playing to your strengths and broadening your horizons. It was never intended to pigeonhole anyone.
On the inside, you’re thinking. How can I, someone with a preference for Introversion, train groups of people as my job? My energy comes from in-depth, one-on-one conversations, not noise-filled, overstimulating group work. I’m much happier working and spending time alone.
Luckily, there’s a place for everyone at the front of the workshop. Here are some tips for succeeding as an introverted trainer.
1. Rehearse ‘til It’s Second Nature
Many Introverts deal with the fear that the whole crowd is judging them. The idea of messing up and earning their disapproval is horrifying. And, no matter how many times your remind yourself that people are there for themselves and not for you, you’re still your own worst critic. The anxiety this creates can wreck your performance.
For Introverts more than any other type, it’s important to rehearse your presentation until it’s second nature. It’s cliche but it’s true: practice makes the whole “performing” thing so much easier. If you’re unsure about the material or activities, you will be overly focused on your performance. Your anxiety will lessen if you’re comfortable with the routine.
2. Play the Name Game
It’s important to connect with your workshop participants, if only for a few hours, which can be challenging for Introverts. One simple way to achieve this is by using people’s names. Calling people out by name, and giving them a smile, shows that you’re not a robot presenting to a lot of people. Rather, you’re a friend and an ally, and you’re working with the participants to achieve the workshop’s goals.
How do you find out people’s names? Most trainers take the direct route, by assigning name badges. If you’re training in-house within your own organization, use the handy trick of checking the sign up sheet for names you recognize, and call those people out during the workshop. You only need to bring it to one or two people, and that’s enough to give the illusion of talking to a small group of friends.
3. Make Sure the Room is Introvert Friendly
For an Introvert, just the image of rows of chairs facing forward, all eyes on you, is enough to make you nervous. Before the workshop, be sure to switch up the layout so you’re not the center of attention. Arranging seating into a horseshoe shape or around smaller tables means participants are more likely to look at each other and not at you most of the time.
4. Give Them Something Else to Look At
There’s a fair amount of theory to present in a personality workshop and the traditional way to deliver this information is via a Powerpoint presentation projected onto a screen behind you. The problem here is it puts all eyes on you, which can be unsettling for some Introverts.
While some element of lecturing may be unavoidable, be sure to include as many activities as you can in the workshop. If you plan ahead, you can structure these activities as one-to-one and small-group work. This serves the dual purpose of reducing your own levels of stimulation, and encouraging the participants to learn from each other with plenty of ebb and flow. Good presentations work better when they are more of a cooperative workshop than a formal class, so be sure to get the lecturing/doing balance right.
5. Leverage your Introversion
When people picture a group trainer, they likely imagine an outgoing, exuberant performer – they think of an Extravert. They don’t imagine someone who is quiet and lacking in confidence. And that’s because most people misunderstand what being an Introvert means.
Since you’re there to be a guide, be open about your introversion. Don’t try to go against your nature. If you’re not a ‘shy’ Introvert, use this ambiguity to explore the class’s misconceptions. Explain that introversion doesn’t mean that you’re shy and socially anxious, although some people are. It simply means you get energy from quietly reflecting on your thoughts and feelings. That awareness can play a major part in the class success and actually give you an advantage as a trainer – many people prefer a presenter who holds back a little. You’re a good example of how Introverts can remain true to themselves and succeed in a people-facing role, so be that role model.
6. Evaluate What’s Working
As a professional trainer, you already evaluate what’s working for your participants. But it’s also important to evaluate which parts of the workshop are working for you – what makes you uncomfortable, and what you can do to ease the anxiety. For example, if it’s all-day workshops that are wiping you out, cap the presentation at a half-day and host several, manageable sessions instead of one long, exhausting marathon. You’ll feel less overwhelmed – and at least half the participants will also appreciate the shorter sessions.
7. Take Time to Recharge
Most Introverts are able to act out of character for a short period and become that charismatic, energetic speaker. But to be at your best when training, it’s important to create periods when you can rest and recharge. This means knowing your limits and finding a restorative niche at regular intervals throughout the day.
Acting like the Extravert with no break is taking the fast train to burnout. If a day proves particularly difficult, you should take extra time the next day to work out, take a walk, read or have a quiet meal alone or with someone you know well and are comfortable with – whatever cures the inevitable training “hangover.” These self-help remedies will all greatly improve your ability to stand in front of a room the next day.
Bottom Line – Remind Yourself Why You’re There
At the end of the day, you’re not there for yourself; you’re there to help other people learn more about themselves. The rewards of seeing the lights go on are worth whatever discomfort that might come with the territory. Remember that you are doing this because you want to share your passion for personality theory to help others. It’s this passion, along with your listening skills and sensitivity, that means Introverted trainers can do very well in the classroom.