How to design an event for introverts

Last updated Mar 29, 2021 | Running effective meetings

How to design an event for introverts

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If you’re arranging an event, be it a networking meeting, conference or some form of social/ work gathering you may like to consider the introvert perspective on it. Reducing potential stress on your quieter delegates will allow them to mix more readily, leading to a much better event. Understanding the answers will help you know how to design an event for introverts.

Events where people stand around chatting can be exhausting for introverts (and others), knowing what’s coming up can help reduce that exhaustion. In case you were wondering, remote meetings where you chat can be just as tiring.

Introverts often (would like to) ask these questions before attending. It helps them manage their energy levels. If you consider them and build the answers into your meeting notes, you’ll improve the quality of debate an interaction in the meeting.

Seven questions to help introverts prepare for social gatherings

  1. Will it be a sit-down or buffet dinner? If you’re inviting an introvert to an event you might pre-empt this one. Buffets mean more flexibility. You can get food, sit, eat, disappear for a few minutes to recharge or leave. A formal sit-down forces more social interaction, even if it’s more structured.
  2. Do you want me to present in front of a group? Introverts can be good at presenting. They’ll prepare and practice, one of the introverts myths is that they don’t make good speakers. They’ll prefer notice to being put on the spot.
  3. How long does the event last? Introverts like to know how long an event will last. They have a limited amount of “people energy”. For all day sessions, especially in a large group, plan some breaks and let people know when these will be. Equally supportive is to say something like the meeting finishes at 3, but people often start to leave at about 2 – now the introvert knows they’re not stuck until the bitter end.
  4. Open networking, or structured? Outside of networking meetings a similar question is “is it a meet and greet event?”. Introverts tend to prefer a formal structure and know what’s expected, rather than having to engage in spontaneous conversation or unexpectedly speaking in front of a group.
  1. “Can I bring a colleague?”: A great tip for an introvert in a social gathering or networking meeting is to ensure they know somebody there. Bringing a colleague can relieve some of the stress and know that there’s somebody to talk to. If that close colleague is an extravert it helps even more.
  2. “Are there any rules about using phones?”: This is a double edged sword. We all hate it when phones keep going off, interrupting the meetings (asking for mute will solve that), so some venues now say no phones. A phone can be an introvert’s friend and protective shield. Being able to text, email or check social LinkedIn makes things it a lot easier to survive a social gathering. It’s all about the people energy again.
  3. “Who will be there?” From the introvert perspective, is this all new social interactions, or mainly people they already know? This allows preparation, will it be a room full of extroverts that make us stand out, does the introvert need to ensure they’re fully charged with people energy before attending?

Events such as regional meetings, conferences, networking meetings, work social events, discussion forums often involve periods of time chatting to others. It’s not only introverts who don’t like that “open networking”, although most introverts find it exhausting and often avoid it. By considering your delegates in advance you can arrange a better meeting.

You may also like to read:

Or listen to: 

An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.

Running Meetings that make things happen

by Jon Baker

As cited in the Economist

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