Some people enjoy being in the spotlight and/or are gifted orators. This post is not for them.
I listened to a book on tape last year called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking“, by Susan Cain. It was a nice, quick read – or rather, listen – that reaffirmed what I already know about myself, and perhaps it would have been really helpful if I had come across it years ago.
As you might imagine, I was surprised to discover that the author gave a TED talk on the topic of her book. My first reaction was, “That’s got to be hard for an introvert!” Apparently that was Cain’s first reaction as well, but she prepped long and hard, starting by signing up for Toastmasters:
Public speaking is a skill like any other: some people take to it more readily than others, but with motivation and practice it really does get easier (trust me). As Cain would probably argue, the introvert who has mastered public speaking is like a superhero with two super-powers — and as I would argue, there is no better time than grad school to acquire a new super-power. So, the next time you have an opportunity to sign up to give a talk about your research (or a lecture), think twice before passing on it. And check out Toastmasters.