I confess. I’m a bit of a recluse. A hopeless blogger geek who spends most of her day clicking away at the keyboard, oblivious to the world. I don’t mind being alone. So it makes perfect sense that I live on an island.
I’m pretty sure I’ll never be a world-class speaker. Speech class in high school was for me the equivalent of Chinese water torture.
The fear started building one day in 5th grade when I gave my lame, over-rehearsed “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” talk to a group of rowdy, pre-hormonal 10-year-olds, including Stewart Granger, who sat in the front row and pretended to pick his nose every time I looked his way.
I had no sooner opened my mouth that day when my fidgeting fingers managed to send the erasers on the chalkboard ledge flying amid great white poofs of dust. I choked on my words—literally—and the classroom exploded, kids falling off their chairs, all of them laughing at me.
I was washed up, my speaking career irretrievably broken. And all at the age of 10.
Introverts in the Real World
I may still be an introvert but today, as a blogger, I see how important it is to get out there in the world. To tell my blog’s story. To give my best 5th grader’s speech, in front of the whole class.
If you are a blogger and you happen to be an introvert, you no doubt find solace and comfort in blogging and the whole social media thing. For me, Web 2.0 was the most noteworthy invention since Magnetic Scrabble. I could actually take my time, think first, then carefully compose an email or blog post or forum comment. It was really still one-way communication, though it felt two-way. Write. Click. Send. Repeat.
But last week I stepped out of my comfort zone. A reporter from the Boston Globe had read a post of mine, Here She Comes to Save the Day: Wanton Exclamation Point, and emailed me with a request for an interview in real time. He was writing a story about punctuation abuse and how social media, texting and email are making the problem worse.
Interviews, speaking engagements, appearances on radio shows, these can be challenging for introverts. Our brains work a little differently. We need time and space to interact in a way that values our thinking style. It’s why we aren’t fond of answering a phone call when it comes out of the blue.
We need time to listen and process.
But sometimes it’s hard to do that and keep up with the conversation. Here are some things I learned as I prepared for my interview.
The Introvert Blogger’s 5-Step Guide to Acing an Interview
1. Nail down the interview topic as specifically as you can.
If the interviewer has already prepared their questions, ask if you can get a copy beforehand so you can do some pre-interview thinking. With my recent interview on Andrea Hurst’s blog series, AUTHORNOMICS, I got a copy of the questions and was able to formulate thoughtful responses.
2. If you landed the interview because of a specific post you wrote, go back and review the content in it.
Obviously, something in that post caught the reporter’s eye. Jot down a few notes in case he asks you more questions about any of the content in it.
3. Make a brief outline with talking points.
Now you don’t always need to do this, but having sub-topics with a few key phrases under each can help you keep your thoughts organized— and even jump start your thinking.
4. Be specific, give lively examples and throw in a little humor if you can.
Our brains always remember the specific over the general. As my friend Kare Anderson, former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Emmy-winning journalist for NBC, said in a blog post for The Harvard Business Review: “When asked how he managed to write such gripping horror novels, Stephen King once responded, ‘I cut out the boring stuff.’”
5. Brainstorm a few succinct, memorable quotes.
For introverts, sometimes the exact words you want don’t easily roll off the tongue, so give some thought to one or two lines that the reporter might just want to pull out and use for his article.
What about you?
Are you a spontaneous interview subject or do you plan ahead for the experience?
Do you think extroverts and introverts approach interviews differently?