What kind of presenter are you: The (Real) Enthusiast

In the universe of public speaking the (real) enthusiast is unusual but not actually rare.  They’re sort of like US dollar coins– they’re out there, but they tend to be common in just a few places.  You’re unlikely to receive a Sacajawea dollar from anywhere other than a post office or a vending machine and– while it’s certainly possible– you’re unlikely to find enthusiasts outside of a few roles where they can make use of their daredevil-ish lack of fear.

These are the people who volunteer for everything.  They tend to be leaders, people who are confident (sometimes overconfident) about their abilities.  Performers and people like teachers and trainers tend to be enthusiasts.  They like the attention, the adrenaline rush they get from being onstage.  Glossy pharmaceutical reps are usually enthusiasts, a skill they often made use of building human pyramids before they were recruited from their college cheerleading squads.

Enthusiasts tend to recognize the benefits they can get from being a good speaker, but they can also be sloppy.  They rely too much on their naturals gifts.  Sometimes they think so highly of their own abilities that they don’t see the need to prepare and will waste their audience’s time on a poorly thought-out presentation.

The challenges for enthusiasts are very different than they are for other kinds of speakers.  They aren’t concerned about nerves, but they need to make sure that they actually have something to say and that they aren’t just up on stage enjoying the sound of their own voice.  Enthusiasts who don’t focus on the needs of their audiences can come across as glib, arrogant, and insincere.

Of course, like everything else in the Universe, these four categories of speakers aren’t totally clear-cut.  Some people can have characteristics of more than one type of presenter, or these qualities can change over time.

I’m usually an enthusiastic volunteer, for example, but I always get nervous when it’s time to speak.  Even going around a table and introducing myself makes me nervous.  What if I forget my name?

But I get over it quickly.  And practice really is the key.  I only got comfortable talking in front of a group when I had a job where I had to do it every day.  There just couldn’t have been a class if I didn’t teach it.

The important thing for anyone who does presenting or public speaking is to know what kind of speaker you are, the challenges you face, and to have a plan for overcoming them.  What we don’t want you to do is use a label to justify your excuses, for you to think “well, I’m a refuser and I’m just not going to do it.”  That kind of thinking doesn’t help at all.

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