Susan cain the power of introverts ted talk summary

Rhetorical Analysis: The Power of Introverts

By Jacob Friedman | Rhetorical Analysis Essays

Introversion is an undervalued characteristic that is often overlooked in our extroverted society. In Susan Cain’s TED talk, “The Power of Introverts,” the acclaimed writer and lecturer informs the audience how extroverted styles of thought in the workplace and the classroom are overtaking our institutions and suppressing the creative thinking of many introverts. Cain’s central argument is that introverts should maintain their abilities to think creatively, brainstorm in their own quiet ways, and not succumb to socially accepted, extroverted methods of working. To express her claim, Cain, who identifies as an introvert, uses a series of personal anecdotes and rhetorical moves to share her own stories of introversion and connect with introverted audience members.
Cain is also able to connect with extroverted audience members and uses this connection to prompt extroverts to abide by her claims. Carefully implemented tactics, including sharing her own experiences, allow her to effectively establish connections with both parties. In addition to conveying an extroverted persona on stage, Cain uses her respectful, direct, and laid-back personality to increase her persuasiveness. These rhetorical strategies shape her ethos, make her a trustworthy speaker, and motivate the audience to start accepting introverted thought processes.

Cain notes that extroverts are generally seen by those in authority as favorable students and employees, as they work better in the social settings their teachers and employers place them in. Introverts are often dismissed in these roles due to their reserved nature and the fact that they typically work better in isolation. Cain believes that this baseless estrangement threatens the social and economic standing of fellow introverts. This perceived alienation of members of Cain’s social group alarm the speaker, prompted her to give this speech and to write numerous books about the need to preserve introverted styles of thought. These books are titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, and Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids. In her speech, and in her books, Cain stresses that introverts are just as efficient, if not more so, than extroverts, if given an appropriate environment.

Throughout her speech, Cain uses personal anecdotes and audience-based appeals to show how someone as introverted as herself can succumb to extroverted pressures.

More importantly, she includes these appeals to connect on a deeper level with the introverts in her audience, because those audience members can identify with Cain’s personality, her viewpoints, and the societal struggles that she has endured. Cain discusses her perceptions of camp as a young child and her vision “of ten girls sitting in a cabin, cozily reading books in their matching nightgowns” (Cain). To her dismay, camp turned out to be an extrovert festival with rowdy cheers and constant socialization. Cain’s example directly appeals to many introverts who have, at some point in their lives, found discomfort in large social gatherings. In the process, she evokes empathy and humor from all members of her audience.. She also generates not just recognition but a sense of relief from her introverted audience members, showing that they are not alone in their desire to seek quiet settings.

Cain invokes her own past emotional reactions not only to connect with her audience members, but to reveal how she experienced living as an introvert in environments geared toward extroversion. Subsequently, she uses this portrayal to show how even someone as introverted as herself can thrive in the presence of extroversion.
Influenced by the desire to fit in and to prove to herself that she could achieve success in an inherently public field, Cain discusses how she came to be a lawyer. As a young adult, Cain “was always going off to crowded bars, when in reality [she] would have preferred to just have a nice dinner with friends” (Cain). In that sentence, Cain intimately reveals how her career choice and her personal decisions went against almost everything she envisioned herself becoming as an introvert. Cain uses her own life’s example to reinforce the notion that extroverted styles of thought are pressuring throngs of introverts to wander unhealthily out of their social comfort zone. Cain trusts that the introverts in her audience will recognize similar sacrifices that they themselves have made or will have to make in order to make a living and achieve their goals.

In addition to using her own childhood experiences to relate to the introverts in her audience, Cain incorporates analogies about extroversion into her argument to connect with extroverted audience members . For example, to show the loquacious nature of her summer camp, Cain states “camp was more like a keg party without any alcohol” (Cain n.p.). By relating her past experiences to a keg party - an event that one would most likely find many extroverts at - she is able to appeal to her outgoing audience members.

Additionally, the humor conveyed by a statement that amusingly compares youth camp to a rowdy adult celebration further gains the attention of her audience, especially extroverted members.

As a complementary tactic to the one described in the previous paragraph, Cain is able to take on the persona of an extrovert throughout her speech. During her talk, Cain remains passionate and confident. Her tone is soft, yet convincing, and her stage presence is unwavering. Her body language is relaxed, even in front of a large audience. Although Cain is a soft-spoken and presumably shy introvert, she demands to be heard. Through her laid-back stage presence, and her calm and collected character, Cain convinces her audience that, even as an introvert, she can behave similarly to a stereotypical extrovert in front of a large group of people. When extroverted audience members take note of the personality of this self-proclaimed introvert, some of them may recognize that they are not all that different from introverts. This realization may compel some extroverts to identify and even empathize with Cain’s claims.

Furthermore, Cain’s portrayal of herself as an introvert who, if circumstances require, can adopt extroverted tendencies may inspire introverts to stick up for what they believe in and become more outgoing. Introverts are generally quieter than extroverts and sometimes find it harder to make their voices heard, even if a few may wish to speak up more often. By taking on the role of an extrovert through her tone and presence, Cain conveys to introverts that extroversion can be an important mode of delivery that is useful for persuasion. Therefore, she hopes to convince introverts that extroversion is not a completely negative characteristic, that extroverts are not awful people, and that introverts can use extroversion to make their voices heard.

Cain notes on numerous occasions throughout her speech that our world is wasting the talents and capabilities of introverts. Cain remarks, “the vast majority of teachers [believe] the ideal student is an extrovert as opposed to an introvert” (Cain). Here, the speaker directly challenges teachers for favoring extroverts solely based on their outgoing nature. She also notes that “when it comes to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions” (Cain). With this comment, Cain addresses specific groups, comprised primarily of teachers and employers who may favor extroversion and contribute to the erosion of introverted styles of thought. Through specific, non-malicious, and direct assertions targeted at the audience, some of whom undoubtedly hold perceptions Cain wishes to change, she evokes a call to action among those who favor extroversion to allow introverts to succeed while willingly seeking solitude. In doing so, Cain also urges extroverts to base their perception of introverts on factors other than their soft-spoken nature and their reluctance to work in groups. She expresses a hope that extroverts will begin to judge introverts not by how they interact with others, but by their work ethics, their passion, their creativity, and their success.

Cain simultaneously motivates introverts to stick up for themselves and to embrace their reserved mannerisms. Cain’s ethical and respectful requests effectively prompt these two different groups into taking steps to make sure that extroverts and introverts may thrive.

To improve her credibility among potential naysayers, Cain stresses numerous times that she does not oppose extroverted styles of thought and that she does not dislike extroverts. After giving numerous examples of why introverts make better leaders and thinkers, she humorously affirms, “I think at this point it’s important for me to say that I actually love extroverts. I always like to say [that] some of my best friends are extroverts, including my beloved husband” (Cain). Once again, in invoking her own situation, Cain proves to her audience, through her respectful nature, that she values and understands the strengths of both groups.

Numerous times throughout her speech, Cain calls attention to the fact that many modernized classrooms and workplaces cater to extroverts by encouraging students and employees to work together more frequently. Cain points out that, although this idea is extremely favorable for extroverts, who obtain their energy from outside sources, this style of work may not be the most effective way for introverted, self-energizing students to complete tasks. Cain’s direct and respectful confrontation of those in the high ranks of education and the workplace who stifle introverted tendencies compels extroverts to alter their perception of introverts and prompts introverts to stick up for themselves. Cain succinctly and successfully concludes her talk with a proposal: “the key to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us” (Cain). With those words, Cain achieves for her speech what she strives to achieve for introverts: an understanding and respect.


Cain, Susan. "The Power of Introverts." TED Talk. Feb. 2012. TED Talks. Web. 27 September, 2016.

Articles copyright © 2022 the original authors. No part of the contents of this Web journal may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission from the author or the Academic Writing Program of the University of Maryland. The views expressed in these essays do not represent the views of the Academic Writing Program or the University of Maryland.

The underrated power of introverts [TED Talk video]

Whether or not we notice it throughout our lives, so many of our experiences are geared towards supporting extroverted people over introverted people.

From my own point of view, as I’m sure with many others, it always seemed like extroverts were praised more, listened to more, and even liked more to some extent. 

In her TED talk, "The Power of Introverts," Susan Cain tries to shift our mindsets about introverts, stating that we all need to “appreciate the introvert inside of us.”

 Join the IMPACT coaches for a deep dive on a new topic every month in our free virtual event series.

Susan Cain’s story

Cain starts her talk by telling a story about her experience at summer camp as a child.

Being highly introverted and a self-admitted bookworm, she showed up to camp prepared (and excited) to read through the pile of books she brought with her. 

When her camp counselor noticed her preference to read by herself, she told Cain that “we should all work really hard to be outgoing. ” 

Not wanting to disappoint the camp counselor, she put her books away for the rest of the summer. 

Determined to prove that she could be as bold and assertive as an extrovert as she got older, she put her dream of being a writer aside and decided to become a Wall Street lawyer instead.

(Sounds like a perfect fit for an introverted person, right?). 

She explains that many introverts feel this need to prove something to themselves and others, even if it means putting themselves in a “zone of stimulation” that isn’t where they’re comfortable. 

Cain notes what a shame this is.

She elaborates throughout the rest of her talk about how valuable it is to let introverts be themselves to foster maximum creativity, innovation, leadership, and so much more.

Not only is this a loss for the person, but for their coworkers, neighbors, and overall community as well.

What is an introvert?

I believe that many people (myself included) have a misconception about what makes someone an introvert.  

Contrary to popular belief, introversion is different from being shy.

Shyness, Cain explains, is about “fear of social judgement.”

Instead, introversion or extroversion come down to how a person responds to stimulation, especially in social settings.

Introverts tend to thrive in quiet situations, while extroverts crave the opposite, tending to thrive with large amounts of stimulation. 

Cain states that “When it comes to creativity and leadership, we need introverts doing what they do best,'' but they can only do this when put in the “zone of stimulation” that is right for them.   

Unfortunately, so many of our important institutions are currently designed for extroverts.

The growing popularity of open workplaces, for example, puts more people in an environment of constant stimulation.

With anywhere from a third to a half of the population being made up of introverts, it would make sense for companies to cater to their ideal working situations as well.  

At IMPACT, while we have an open workspace, we also have a number of meeting rooms, private phone booths, lounge areas, and the option for our employees to work remotely.

Ideally, this gives our employees the ability to choose the environment where they will be the most productive. 

Introverted leaders

Although introverts are often passed over for leadership positions, Cain references studies proving that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do.

While introverted leaders are more likely to allow people to take ideas and run with them, extroverted leaders often get so excited about their own ideas they discourage people from introducing additional thoughts. 

Some examples of well-known introverted leaders include Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Mahatma Gandhi.

These are people who are known for being very good at exchanging and advancing ideas, while also having a “serious streak of introversion in them,” according to Cain.

The more freedom and support we give introverts to be themselves, the more likely they are to come up with their own unique solutions to problems.

Culturally, we just haven’t gotten there yet. 

What can we do?

Cain has three important calls to action for us. However, before she lists them off in her talk, she calls the audience’s attention to a suitcase that has been on the stage the whole time. 

Opening up the suitcase, she reveals all of the books that she brought with her on this particular trip, why she chose them, and why they meant something to her and her journey to where she is today. 

These stories guide her into relaying her three points: 

  1. Stop the madness for constant group work. Basically, don’t force people into extroverted settings. Allow them some time to think by themselves before forming a group. Casual and chatty exchanges are great for both introverts and extroverts and should be encouraged. 
  2. Go to the wilderness. We could all use some time to unplug and get into our own heads a little more often. 
  3. Take a good look at what’s inside your own suitcase. Take those things out every chance you get and show who you are. Open up your suitcases to let everyone else see. 

Taking these stories and calls to action, think about your own ideal “zone of stimulation,” and whether or not your environments and decisions are setting you up for success.

The more you listen to and follow your own gut feelings, the better the payoff in the end.

Susan Cain -

For articles of the same name, see Cain (disambiguation).

Susan Horowitz Kane (born 1968) is a trainer, consultant, coach and speaker from the USA.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 publications
  • 3 Bibliography
    • 3.1 Audiovisual documents
  • 4 links
  • 5 External links



  • Silent Strength: Secrets to the Strengths of Introverted Children (co-authored with Gregory Monet and Erica Moroz), eds. Puffin Books, 2017,
  • Silent Strength: The Secret Strengths of Introverts , ed. type books, 2016,
  • Horse Sense for Leaders: Building Trust , co-authored with Debbie Roberts-Looks, ed. Kindle format, 2015,
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking , ed. Crown Publishing Group / Random House, Inc., 2012,
  • Building Effective Communities , with Allison Lizzadro, ed. Susan Kane (kindle format), 2012

In 2012 she published the essay La force des Discrets: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talk (original title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talk) . which notes the cultural misunderstanding of modern Westerners and the underestimation of the nature and abilities of introverts.


  • Susan Cain ignites a "quiet revolution". , article by Lidialil Gibson for Harvard Magazine, 2017,
  • The Secret Power of Introverts, Fortune article by Patricia Sellers, 2015
  • Susan Kane Instigates a 'Quiet Revolution' for Introverts , New York Times article by Laura M. Olson, 2015.
  • Review: Susan Cain , " The Quiet Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" , ed. Brainy Book Reviews, 2013,
  • Mitch Williams, Quiet: A Summary of Susan Cain , ed. Kindle format 2013
  • "The Luck of Solitude: Susan Cain on Introverts, 'New Groupthink', and Problems with Brainstorming" , interview conducted by Arnie Cooper for Fast Company magazine, 2012,
  • Q&A: Susan Cain's Q&A on the Power of Introverts Interview conducted by Maya Salawitz for Time magazine 2012
  • Quiet Please: Unlocking the Power of Introverts, NPR Books radio interview, 2012.

Audiovisual documents

  • TED lecture series


  1. (in) " Quiet, please ", Harvard Magazine , (read online consultation Nov. 18, 2017)
  2. (c) " The Secret Power of Introverts ", Fortune , (read online consultation November 18, 2017)
  3. (en-US) Laura M. Holson, " Susan Cain Instigated the 'Quiet Revolution' of Introverts", The New York Times , (ISSN 362-4, read online as of November 18, 2017)
  4. (en-US) " The Luck of Solitude: Susan Cain on Introverts, the 'New Groupthink', and the Challenges of Brainstorming ", Fast Company , ( read online consultation November 18, 2017)
  5. (en-US) Maya Salawitz, " Q&A: Q&A with Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts ", Time , (ISSN 0040-781X, read online, accessed November 18, 2017 )
  6. (in) " Quiet Please: Unlocking the 'Power of Introverts'" ", , (read online consultation November 18, 2017)
  7. (in) Susan Kane, " Susan Kane: The Power of Introverts " (accessed 18 November 2017)

External links

  • Authority records:

    • Virtual international authority file
    • International Standard Name Identifier
    • National Library of France (data)
    • University Records System
    • Library of Congress
    • Gemeinsame Normdatei
    • Royal Library of the Netherlands
    • University Library of Poland
    • National Library of Sweden
    • Norwegian Library Base
    • Czech National Library
    • National Library of Korea
    • World Cat Id
    • WorldCat

See before the interview: 5 TED-talks for inspiration


Watch before the interview: 5 TED-talks for inspiration

The only way to succeed in an interview is to prepare well for it. Of course, you can go through the standard lists: memorize the answers to tricky questions, think about what to ask the HR manager, decide who you want to be in five years ... But why? After all, there is a much more exciting way: TED talks! We have selected five of the best videos for successful preparation.

The videos will inspire you and give you useful theory. If you want to consolidate your knowledge in practice and immerse yourself in the business environment, come to the Changellenge School >>! This is a five-week online career intensive. Your teachers will be experts from rating companies, you will make new useful contacts and get a significant line in your resume. Register!

1. Master body language

Everyone knows that the movements and postures during a conversation have a huge impact on how the interlocutor perceives us and our words. However, we often forget that the same non-verbal cues affect us as well. Yes, your body language can change the course of your own thoughts! Social psychologist Amy Cuddy talks about strong postures that will give you confidence - especially in stressful situations like job interviews.

2. Learn from examples

In this video, Ashwini Mrinal Bhagat talks about how she got her very first job. It was not easy: the girl had to go through 32 interviews before she got the position. She made notes about each of them, and now shares this experience. Listening to her stories is really interesting: Ashwini gives very practical advice on what to do (and what definitely not to do) in your own interview. But most importantly, these living examples are perceived much better than any formal instructions. Perhaps, at your interview, a story about real life situations in which you have proven yourself will be more effective than empty hackneyed phrases like “I am a natural leader and I can work in a team.”

3. Create new opportunities

“I grew up pathologically shy,” Keir Anderson begins his story. From her own experience, she realized that this fear can be overcome if you learn to recognize your best qualities and present them to the world. According to Keir, every person is at least in some way better than everyone else. This means that you have a chance to get in touch with people who are really different from you and show everyone what you are capable of. Just think of the upcoming interview not as a scary event, but as an opportunity to meet different people and get to know their points of view.

4. Speak so that people want to listen to you

Complaints and excuses, excessive negativity and dogmatism - you need to get rid of these and many other speech habits so that people start listening to you. On the other hand, there are a few basic principles that you can rely on to enhance your speech. All this can come in handy if you want to be truly heard in an interview. For example, you can use your voice to convey various emotions, such as passion or self-confidence - which is certainly useful when you are trying to explain to a recruiter why he should choose you. How exactly? Julian Treasure will teach.

5. Feel the power of introversion

In a world where social connections decide, if not everything, then a lot, extroverts are considered the clear leaders in the race for success, and introverts, accordingly, lag somewhere at the end. But wait a minute... half of the inhabitants of the Earth are just introverts! Maybe it's time to abandon the stereotypes, and finally hear these people? Within modern society, introverts simply do not have enough freedom to be themselves and thus express their own feelings or offer original solutions to problems.

Learn more