In a few weeks, I will be in Washington, DC, to facilitate my workshop “ ’Good Girls Don’t Have Sex’: How Do Religion and the Media Influence Young Women’s Sexuality?” during the annual Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. I’ve facilitated this workshop several times in the past, and as I started to prep for Summit this week (completely out of character for someone who loves to procrastinate), I began thinking of the usual: workshop flow and how to improve my workshop based on past feedback. But I also started to think about me as a workshop facilitator, how I relate to my workshop participants, and my personality in general.
I’m an introvert, and workshop facilitation (and other forms of public speaking) seems like an odd choice for someone who is more inclined to draw energy from within. Though I’m not really one to be in the spotlight when it comes to my personal life, when it’s time to raise my voice for women and girls of color in a professional or activist setting, I’m “on”.
“On” for me doesn’t mean I get this sudden burst of extroverted flair. It means that I’m well prepared and I know what I’m talking about. I utilize my ability to engage my participants while also knowing when to stop talking and get out of the way.
If you’re just starting out in workshop facilitation, or if you’ve facilitated before but feel your introversion hinders your ability to engage your participants, let me tell you this: With over 10 years of workshop facilitation experience behind me, I’ve discovered along the way that you can be an engaging facilitator, have fun while doing it, and keep your introversion in tact. Here is my advice on being an engaging, fun, and introverted workshop facilitator:
Introversion isn’t something you need to “overcome”: Introversion and extroversion are simple ways in which we choose to draw energy from the world. Some people feel invigorated in the middle of a crowd, while others prefer the company of one other person. In a world that prides people on being social and outgoing, it sure feels like we introverts are always getting the short end of the stick. With amazing introverts like Susan Cain, people are starting to see the power of the introvert and what great leaders we really are. Let go of the belief that your introversion prevents you from getting your message across. Workshop participants focus more on the content of the material you present, how drawn they are to your presence, and the manner in which you make them feel heard.