From time to time, I hear people say things like, “She is a natural speaker.” On the other hand, I also hear things like, “I’ve always been a terrible speaker.” Both of these statements may be somewhat true. But they are also both absolutely false as well. No one comes out of the womb a fantastic orator. In addition, everyone has the talent to speak. Many people just fail to develop their natural talent.
Your personality strengths and weaknesses will often lead you to think one way or the other. Every personality temperament has some strengths when they communicate. Of course, each of them have some weaknesses as well. So, if you understand your personal personality strengths and weaknesses, you can maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. As a side benefit, this process is also helpful to reduce public speaking fear.
Before we cover these strengths and weaknesses, though, let me give you some background.
The History of Personality Type Theories
The origins of the four personality temperaments date all the way back to Ancient Egypt. However, the Greek physician Hippocrates was the first one to use the concept in medicine. (Yes the Hippocrates that the medical “Hippocratic Oath” is based on.)
Hippocrates was trying to figure out why people with the same education, same religious beliefs, same experience, and the same teachers could look at data and draw two totally different conclusions. He theorized that different people had different personality temperaments. These temperaments or types caused people to see the world through different filters.
For example, let’s say that you bring two friends to an art museum. You give one friend a pair of glasses that have a red film over the lenses. When he looks at the art, every piece has a red tint. You give the other friend a pair of yellow-tinted glasses. When she looks at the art, everything has a yellow color. At the end of the tour, you ask your friends to describe their favorite pieces. Although all three of you looked at the same exact pieces, the descriptions will all be quite different.
Personality strengths and weaknesses work in a similar way. Some people are very detail-oriented while others like the big picture. In addition, some people are very forward and outgoing while others are reserved. And, of course, some people absolutely love speaking in front of a group while others detest it.
The Original Theory Concerning Personality Strengths and Weaknesses.
Hippocrates and his students identified four personality temperaments. The theory was really simple and easy to understand because there were only two metrics to examine. The first metric measures whether the person is direct or indirect. The second metric measures whether the person is people-oriented or logic-oriented. This theory is really simple, but it is also very useful.
Basically, to determine your personality strengths and weaknesses, just ask yourself two questions.
- Are you more direct or indirect?
Indirect people tend to be more cautious. They tend to want to move a little more slowly in order to not make a mistake. Direct people tend to react more quickly. They realize that they may make mistakes, but they want to move faster so as to not miss an opportunity.
- Are you more people-oriented or logical?
People-oriented folks tend to look at things in the world based on how those things affect other people. They are more likely to analyze a decision based on how the decision will hurt or help others. Logical people tend to look at the world based on facts and data.
This process is really simple. It is easy to understand. In addition, you don’t have to purchase expensive tests to determine a person’s personality strengths and weaknesses.
Terms Used to Define the Personality Types.
Below are the terms that are used in psychology to describe the different personality types. I’ve also added a modern-day descriptive term for each temperament.
- Phlegmatic (Amiable) is both Indirect and People-Oriented.
The Amiable personality type is fairly easy going. They get along well with others and are often the peacemakers. They are very friendly, but not particularly outgoing. Their real strengths are that they are extremely likable, trustworthy, and they build great relationships with others. Their biggest weaknesses, though are that they tend to be more shy and introverted. The Amiable type makes fantastic speakers because they are so likable. However, they often don’t like to be the center of attention. As a result, they are extremely self-conscious.
- Melancholic (Analytical) is both Indirect and Logical.
The Analytical temperament is very detail-oriented. They like data, facts, and figures. The Analytical loves problem-solving and feels successful when the equation balances. As a speaker, this person is thorough. However, the big weakness of this speaker is that he or she may seem to others as being boring. Their delivery is often unenthusiastic.
- Choleric (Driver) is both Direct and Logical.
The Driver is the typical “Type A” personality. This presenter will often speak with authority and poise, even if the speaker is nervous. Drivers are very goal-oriented, and they love to be in charge. The big weakness of this personality type, though, is that the Driver tends to offend people by being too blunt.
- Sanguine (Expressive) is both Direct and People-Oriented.
The real strength of the Expressive type is their energy and enthusiasm. Expressives are very social and creative. They have fantastic ideas and have a tendency to be able to get others to cooperate. The biggest weakness of this group, though, is that they have poor follow-through skills. They tend to get excited about an idea, go gung-ho for a short time, then move to a new idea very quickly.
No One Is a Single Personality Type. We All Have Traits of Every Temperament. (That is What Makes Us Individuals.)
Keep in mind that no one is absolutely a single personality type. We are all products of our genes. As a result, we all have traits from our mothers and traits from our fathers. So, if your parents are both Drivers, you will likely also have high driver characteristics. (You will also likely have very lively and forceful conversations at the dinner table.)
Interestingly, though, we tend to be attracted to our opposites. For instance, I’m a high Driver. I’m Direct and Logical. My wife, on the other hand, is very Amiable. She is sweet and people-oriented, and she is also very indirect. My daughter is people-oriented like her Mom, but she is as direct as I am. As a result, she is an Expressive type. My son is logical, like me, and indirect, like his Mom. So, he is Analytical. So, in our household, we have all four temperaments.
The most important thing to understand about personalities is that you may see the world differently than your loved one, friends, and coworkers. You may have a different shade of glasses. However, you will have strengths that your loved ones, friends, and coworkers don’t have.
Understanding Your Personality Strengths and Weaknesses Can Reduce Presentation Fear.
Once you understand how personality types work, you can begin to reduce presentation fear. For instance, if you are an Expressive, you have natural enthusiasm. However, you often shoot from the hip too much. As a result, your audiences will feel like your presentations were too vague. To fix this, create a clear outline of your main points. Then use examples as way to add specificity to the content.
If you are a Driver, you likely speak with authority and poise. However, your delivery may turn off audiences. Adding more examples and self-deprecating humor to your presentations will help you connect better.
If you are an Analytical, your logic is going to be very sound. However, your delivery may be perceived as being boring. The easy solution is to reduce the number of items covered and increase the number of examples and stories.
And finally, if you are Amiable, your audience will love you. However, you may feel very self-conscious. By starting your presentations with a warm success story, you can win over even the most stoic group.
Did You Catch the Pattern of How to Maximize Your Personality Strengths?
For each personality, the solution is to insert more examples and stories into your presentations. Why does this work? When most people begin to analyze the personality strengths and weaknesses of themselves and others, they look exclusively to the differences in all of the personality types.
When we do this, we forget that our goal isn’t to communicate just with people just like me. The goal is to communicate with the entire audience. When we communicate in our “natural” way, we will connect with about 25% of the audience.
If you have ever experienced a miscommunication with a significant other, you may relate here. Most likely, you were communicating in a way that is ideal for your personality. However, the person you were communicating with sees things in a totally different way.
Basically, over the last 20 years, we’ve identified six specific things that all four personality types share. We built the Fearless Presentations ® class around those six things. So if you really want to communicate with the masses, join us for our next class!