SURVEY SAYS: Comfort Making Presentations

I consider myself an introvert.

Yet somehow, I am able to stand in front of hundreds of people at our conferences, moderating panels, without feeling nervous.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert, and how comfortable would you feel delivering a 15-minute speech to an audience of 200?”

Nearly eight in 10 responding readers (79.8%) consider themselves to be introverts, while 13.5% say they are extroverts and 6.7% say they are neither.

Nearly one-quarter (24.7%) indicated they would feel very uncomfortable delivering a 15-minute speech to an audience of 200, while 16.8% would feel somewhat uncomfortable. Nearly three in 10 (29.2%) said they would feel very comfortable, and 15.7% said they would feel somewhat comfortable. And, 13.5% said it would depend on the topic.

Comments by readers were very interesting. Several that consider themselves extroverts actually are nervous giving presentations and several introverts say they do well. Many agreed that “practice makes perfect” and knowing the subject matter well helps. And, I was reminded by many responses that being an introvert does not necessarily mean you are shy; it just means you have to step away from the energy drain of being around a lot of people. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: Speaking in front of people—no problem. Put me in a ‘networking event’ with high top tables and people milling about—no thank you!” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!


Extroverts feel comfortable when they don't know what to say. Introverts feel comfortable when they do know what to say.

It is tough to be an introvert in a world that seems to prefer extroverts.

Just breathe deep, speak slowly and get it done.

Tell me to talk technical and I've got it. Tell me to share my feelings, such as during a wedding toast, knees start shaking.

I have trained myself to become more extroverted than my innate preferences would suggest. I have no issue addressing large groups if I know my topic.

Being an introvert is my natural style, however my job requires me to be an extrovert.

Giving a presentation to 200 I'd be totally fine. However, please DO NOT ask me to mingle with 200 people at a cocktail party. It's the small talk that is SO exhausting and turns me into a wall flower.

If I know my topic I'd rather stand in front of a crowd of 200 to present than have to try to make small talk with any one of those people

According to my significant other, I am very good at "filling dead air." Speaking in front a large audience? Bring it on!

In my field, where I am the expert - no problem. I could do this any time. If I have to talk about something which I have very little experience or knowledge I would be somewhat uncomfortable. But I could do it. Being an introvert doesn't mean I can't speak to a large group - it means I am uncomfortable in large social settings - there is a big difference between the two. An extrovert might be extremely comfortable at a party, but very uncomfortable giving a speech to a large group. I have definitely seen this.

Practice make perfect!

Verbatim (cont.) 

I'm a shy introvert, and for years have gone out of my comfort zone to speak at industry conferences and webcasts to large audiences. I'm never really comfortable but do it because I want to participate in the industry community. Usually it's a technical topic that I know well or need to know well. I think through how to structure the content and deliver in a way that people will understand. I'm not a great speaker and it's always a lot more effort that it should be, but I learn a lot.

I consider myself an extrovert. I love to talk to people one on one or in small groups. That said, when it comes to speaking in large group situations, I am always nervous.

Every other month, I host and present an hour long Webex benefits orientation for new employees with a Q&A. The audience size is variable (50 to 100 people). I've become more comfortable with the presentation. However, I always at some point during the presentation have a moment of sheer panic, but I push through it. Because...I don't want to be "that person."

When I approach the presentation to be about the audience and their needs, I can get out of my head and be effective, compelling and engaging.

I made a presentation in front of a large group about 15 years ago. I was petrified!

I am a very strong introvert. I don't typically speak to groups in excess of about 50, but do not believe I would have any issue speaking to a large group. Most difficult for me are individual or small group discussions in the midst of a large networking event. The number of people mingling is just overwhelming and so many different conversations going on around me is very distracting. Highly stressful. My job requires me to meet with people all day long, but thankfully the setting is usually fairly quiet. However, I am exhausted when I get home -- I just want to curl up with a book in a quiet room and ignore my spouse and any phone calls. He is great as he understands and respects my need to recharge in a quiet space.

I think most people are naturally introverts. Being an extrovert is a learned behavior. After giving a phenomenal impromptu speech to 200 people I revert right back into my shell.

If it is on a subject I am well versed in and I have time enough to prepare, I am much more comfortable than not.

For me, the comfort level in giving a speech is directly tied to the amount of practice or level of preparedness that has been invested.

I consider myself an introvert but my career requires me to present enrollment and educations meetings. I'd bet my clients think that I am extroverted. Sometimes, it pays to fake it 🙂

Verbatim (cont.) 

I am the front person in a rock band and love it but have a very hard time with one-on-ones and small groups. Especially, if I'm unfamiliar with the person/people. Give me a large crowd to speak or sing in front of and I'm all over that!!

The extroverts get the attention, but it's the introverts who have the deeper knowledge base.

I'm an extrovert who loves to talk in front of groups. With that said, I do like a podium to stand at for at least the first few minutes, until my knees stop knocking together!

I do not like public speaking of any kind. I avoid it at all costs!

There is no doubt I am an introvert, and would never be considered to be the life of a party. In my job I do often have to speak before groups, and some have been in excess of 200 people. I am always nervous, but I actually enjoy speaking once the meeting starts. I don't consider myself a great speaker, but based on feedback I have received I think I do a more than adequate job. I normally always try to start a meeting with some type of joke (about the subject at hand if possible). I find this helps relieve any tension I have, whether the audience thinks it is that funny or not.

I consider that being an introvert makes it difficult to introduce myself to new people, but giving a speech is different. Getting in front of people to talk is more about knowing the subject matter and the comfort that comes from that knowledge.

As they say, "Practice makes perfect". Introverts will avoid uncomfortable situations like the plague, where extroverts can have a devil may care attitude.

If I'm prepared and know my topic I'd be very comfortable. The range of comfort is dependent on the depth of knowledge.

Speaking in front of people - no problem. Put me in a 'networking event' with high top tables and people milling about - no thank you!

When not working on retirement plans, I often perform in a community theater. I love speaking to an audience and singing in choral settings. I'm working on getting comfortable singing solo for an audience.

Verbatim (cont.) 

Growing up, I was an extrovert. As I get older, I find myself wanting to spend more time alone. I have done presentations in front of large and small audiences, and have actually been so nervous as to vomit beforehand, but I always get compliments afterward as to how I "didn't seem nervous at all". Score one for "fake it ‘til you make it."

I was not blessed with the ability to ad lib therefore I struggle when not fully prepared.

200 is a piece of cake. I'm uncomfortable when someone just pops in, wants a one-on-one and I don't know what it's about. Especially when I'm all out of crayons, play-doh and safety pins.

I present HR benefits in Orientation all the time for 40-80 people. As long as know what's up on the Powerpoint slides, I can do it!

I'm an introvert to the extreme, but I was a teacher and gave many employee presentations. For me giving a speech is not about being the center of attention, which I hate, it's about educating the audience on a topic. It's about being helpful.

My level of nervousness correlates directly with my level of confidence on the subject matter. The more I practice out loud the less nervous I will be. Yes, people catch me talking to myself whenever I have to prepare for a presentation.

It has taken years for me to be comfortable in situations where I don't know anyone. Although I'm a pro at small talk now, I can tell that introvert is still in there because I'm exhausted after presenting or in situations where I have to interact with people all day. I still need that quiet time to re-energize.

I would be fine speaking on a topic I had prepared for. I would be uncomfortable at a party with 200 strangers.

I would honestly consider quitting my job of 20 years if I was asked to do that.

Until I was thrust into a public speaking role, I feared it. Now that I speak publicly a lot, it's kind of fun. I can completely understand how certain performers are very animated onstage but are very private off the stage.

Verbatim (cont.) 

I think question one 1 should have a third option: "Both". In some situations I am an introvert, in others an extrovert. It depends on the circumstances: who I'm with and where, bad day or good day, is the focus on me or someone else. And, yes, sometimes it may depend on whether I've any adult liquid refreshment.

The level of comfort of speaking to an audience is totally dependent on how comfortable you are with the topic and who the audience is. I don't have any problem talking about benefits with our employees because I know more than they do, and if I don't know something, I can easily say I'll check into it. I would be less comfortable speaking at a conference because there would definitely be people in the audience who are much more knowledgeable.

It's like anything else. The more you do it, the better you become.

I actually enjoy giving presentations and prefer large audiences to smaller audiences.

Definitely feel more comfortable based upon my knowledge of the material. It's also easier to present to a more beginner level audience than an audience with already expertise in the subject.

A lot depends on if I have had time to properly prepare and am confident in the material I am presenting.

I am both, as it depends upon the situation I am put in....extrovert with my friends, and introvert at work....

I don't know that introvert equates to shy or afraid to speak in front of others. I've known many extroverts that are terrified by the prospect. I consider myself very much an introvert, yet I'm outspoken in meetings and frequently presenting to large groups. And yet my favorite activity is time by myself.

I've found that when I have to present, my level of nervousness depends on how comfortable/knowledgeable I am with the topic and how many presentations I've done previously on a regular basis. However, I'm still much more comfortable presenting to smaller groups.

I've presented to large audiences, and of course have butterflies, but once I get started, I'm ok if I'm the Subject Matter Expert. Just because I'm an introvert doesn't mean I'm unable to handle group situations. I need to back away at the appropriate time to recover from the energy drain.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.