The internet is awash with personality quizzes. Which Game of Thrones character are you? Which spirit animal best fits your temperament? If you want to know, there’s a quiz to find out – and yet, so far, I haven’t come across one that helps you understand how your personality affects your speaking style.
Audiences respond to authenticity, so ensuring that who you are feeds into how you speak can be crucial to success.
Many public speaking authorities have their own set of personality types – or try to map a range of speaking styles onto the sixteen Myers-Briggs types. There’s also the wide variety of personality colour tests to bear in mind, to chose just one: are you a wilful red or a safety-first green? How might the fixed principles of a blue or the perfectionism of a yellow play into their respective speaking style?
Well, here are four types of speaker to bear in mind. Whichever personality quiz you prefer, try to think about how your results might plug into these separate styles – and how you might work on your speaking as a result.
The Persuader focuses on changing an audience’s mind. They have a drive to make change, and tend to do this by clear arguments and eloquent communication. Their speaking style tends to build from one point with energy and enthusiasm, in an attempt to convert cynics into followers. The danger here is that the Persuader can be too forward – by focusing on their desire to change the audience’s minds, they can come across as manipulative and even arrogant.
The Analyser is the kind of speaker who’s interested in facts. They have found something out and really want to show the audience what. Unlike the Persuader, they aren’t interested necessarily in making change; they simply want to offer data. Analysers speak plainly and in a structured way to communicate complicated ideas clearly. The weakness of their approach, however, is that their presentations can come across as lectures – and fail to engage as a result.
The Entertainer wants an audience to love them. They will use humour and energetic delivery to engage an audience and make them feel good. Their aim in any presentation is to ensure that the audience remembers it – they will make even the most sober of subjects memorable by way of jokes and, occasionally, jumping. That’s their flaw, too, of course: they can seem not to be serious, and may sometimes lose sight of any purpose other than entertaining their audience.
The Storyteller speaks with feeling, and structures their speech into a story that helps the audience feel the same way. This makes them almost as engaging as the Entertainer – but potentially as convincing as the Persuader. The challenge a Storyteller always faces, however, is how to ensure that their multiple storylines don’t become overly complicated – and that audiences don’t consequently leave the room confused.
The key here, of course, is that no personality is perfect, so play to your own strengths for the majority of your style, using the best from each of the other speaking personalities to give your speech variety where you feel comfortable.