When most people think of PR professionals, they envision extroverted, high-energy people who love public speaking and have unbounded confidence.
However, anyone who has worked in PR for a while knows that isn’t the case. Some of the best PR professionals are introverts who’d prefer to get their heads down and work on the next social media campaign, rather than mingle with their peers at a business event.
If you’re an introvert who’s just getting started in a PR career, it can feel impossible to strike a productive balance between your personality and the communicative nature of your work—but you certainly can. So, here’s a quick guide to help you develop your voice and confidence to help you thrive in PR.
Finding your voice isn’t easy. You have to consider a range of factors, like the context of your business, the audience you’re speaking to, and the language that “fits” you. Fortunately, you can usually use market research and data to get an idea about the wider context, but finding language that suits you is much harder.
The only way to discover your voice is to experiment. Now, that doesn’t mean you should start experimenting with your business’ next press release—in that situation, you’re trying to mimic the company’s branding and identity. But, if you’re due to represent your firm at an event or public speaking engagement, then you may wish to safely experiment with your own PR persona before the big day.
The safest way to experiment with your voice is via your own internal communications. For virtual communications, like emails, try your best to strike a tone that suits your role in the business—usually this will be friendly but professional.
When face-to-face with your peers, consider trying to push your comfort boundaries a little and go beyond the stereotypical, closed-off introvert. You might, for example, decide to make one more interaction than normal during your day. Try to make the most of this interaction, and take a mental note of what felt natural, and what language maybe didn’t fit you.
Finally, remember that you work in PR for a reason. The person who hired you felt that you would thrive in a PR position, so don’t overthink every engagement you have. The most important ingredient when developing an authentic, confident voice is time.
If you’re open to experimenting with your PR voice, but don’t know where to start, then you should do some research and find figures who inspire you. When looking for inspiration, consider thinking outside the box, and listen to people from all kinds of different professional backgrounds. This will cast a wide net for your to draw inspiration from, so you can cherry-pick the elements of voice that you resonate most with.
You may find that creating a PR persona based on other people’s speeches and writing feels a little machiavellian. But, in reality, everyone’s voice is carefully crafted—even the best public speakers “steal” elements of voice from their role models. When you’re working in PR, listening to those who have found success is a great way to refine your voice and develop your confidence.
Take care of yourself
Developing an authentic voice takes time and effort. It can also be an emotionally exhausting process, as “voice” is central to our identity. So you need to make sure that you’re taking care of your own health and wellbeing throughout the process, otherwise your risk burnout and frustration.
Well-being for introverts is complicated. Some research indicates that there could be a link between introversion and depression, as introverts tend to internalize their struggles at work and typically don’t reach out to get the help they need. When developing your PR voice, you have to compartmentalize your work activities otherwise you risk a significant drop in confidence during your day-to-day life.
You also need plenty of rest, so pay attention to your sleep schedule and ensure that you aren’t getting caught up in revenge bedtime procrastination. According to Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta,
revenge bedtime procrastination occurs when overworked employees choose to delay going to bed, as they feel as though they do not have enough free time to be themselves outside of work.
As an introvert, you might be especially susceptible to this kind of behavior, as your work requires you to interact with people for a large chunk of the day. But instead of engaging in unhealthy habits, you need to spend your time off recharging your batteries and engaging in activities that help you feel good about yourself. So, instead of doom-scrolling at night, try engaging in activities that you enjoy like yoga, walking, reading, or cooking.
Consider remote work
If you’re heavily introverted, you might find that an office environment completely burns you out every day. The constant flow of people in and out of your workspace, coupled with the pressure to engage with everyone you see can be exhausting and negatively impact your confidence.
The good news is that there are more remote working opportunities than ever before. Additionally, these remote positions are still heavy on collaboration and communication, as recent remote working trends have increased the adoption of digital technology like cloud workspaces. This means that you still get plenty of space to develop soft skills like a strong, confident voice but you can do so from a safe space in your own home.
Every PR professional strives to craft an authentic, confident voice. For introverts, this process can be a little more difficult, as your personality may get in the way of opportunities to practice. However, by experimenting a little in low-stakes situations and searching for external inspiration, you can develop a clear, confident voice that helps you thrive in public relations.