How to survive a conference, as an introvert

Last updated Dec 10, 2020 | Being introverted

How to survive a conference, as an introvert

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Conferences can be part of life, but they can be hell for introverts. The following 9 point introvert conference survival plan is not a perfect cure, but it lessens the feeling of being completely drained in a conference.

Introvert conference survival plan

One of the commonly accepted points about introverts is that they prefer solitude over large gatherings, especially social gatherings that involve the dreaded small talk. Some people are tired just looking at a picture of room full of people talking, let alone considering the noise and lack of privacy. A business conference has many attributes that introverts don’t naturally like:

  • Social and business discussion, that you can’t escape and need to “perform well” in
  • Evening socialising with people you don’t know well
  • Small talk
  • Being around people generally, and especially loud extroverts

Conferences drain introverts, accept it.

It’s inevitable that you will feel drained as a result of the socialising, let alone tired from late nights, poor diet and too much alcohol (even extroverts get tired by some of those points!).

The first thing is to accept that you will probably feel drained and that there’s nothing wrong with that, wrong with you, or that it means anything negative. It’s part of introvert life, being with a lot of people will tire you more quickly than being on your own.

I’m writing this article in the knowledge that next weekend I’m going to a 3 day conference with lots of noisy extroverts, so I will be shattered during and after. Having accepted it I don’t feel as bad as I used to, so I can focus more on the conference and my things to help me survive it.

9 point introvert conference survival plan

  1. Before going focus on what you want from attending and all the positive things you’ll get from doing so; use that list throughout the time there.
  2. Volunteer to have a role for at least some of the time. Having a role at an event can really help introverts survive large events and conferences.
  3. Plan for the inevitable “small talk” which introverts hate, prepare 2-3 small talk discussion points so you don’t feel as uncomfortable in the small talk that inevitably ensues.
  4. Don’t go to all the sessions in the conference, less is more! During the sessions you skip, go for a walk alone or do some other recovery activity that works for you. Plan, in advance, which sessions you’ll avoid so you don’t get dragged along into going to everything
  5. Avoid the people you find most draining while at the conference. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people, accept that some are more draining than others and protect your energy while there. You might plan to meet up with them at another time.
  6. Take things that help you recover (I’ll take favourite showergel and bath oil- see next point, supercomfy clothes for when I’m in recovery mode and something to make sure my room feels like home)
  7. A long bath between the daytime conference and the evening “socialising” (yes, that’s the bit I find most draining) may help. If a bath doesn’t do it for you, what would? Plan it and do it.
  8. Go to bed early without worrying about doing so. Years ago I felt inadequate when I went to bed far earlier than “everybody”. Later I began to realise that many others escape early too, in fact many earlier than me!
  9. Planned recovery time. Try to arrange to do nothing the day after going, other that things that energise you. It may be a good idea to do nothing the day before as well.
If you are an introvert that finds conferences hard work, what else would you include in your conference survival plan?


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