Introverts thriving in remote meetings

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You’ve been told it’s introvert heaven, you’ve finally been allowed to start working from home.  Well OK, lockdown imposed it and since then you’ve carried on working from home. Here you are, an introvert, working in the way you’re supposed to love only it’s not quite working out. There are many changes you might need to put in place with the way you work, but the zoom room might not be under your control. The rest of the team are driving the conversation, it’s tiring, how can introverts thrive in remote meetings?

Open plan office and introverts

In the “olden days” the problem was the open plan office; the noise, disruptions and difficulty in concentrating.

Team meetings were almost a welcome distraction, even though they were tiring and badly run! But at least it was possible to get a word in when you needed to and the rules of influencing others were understood.

The working from home equivalent of a open plan office seems to be the open plan zoom room. Lots of people cutting into conversations, lots of noise, it’s hard to concentrate, let alone get your point across before everybody wants to get off of the call.

The zoom meeting problem

All the normal team meeting problems exist, which stop the introvert inside you from operating as well as you might are still there:

  • Last minute agenda: A last minute agenda doesn’t give anybody the time to consider their points of view.
  • Last minute data: Not being given time to look at the data in detail, means less well informed discussions dominated by the louder external processing extroverts.
  • Irrelevant small talk. Introverts tend to hate small talk and it’s even worse on zoom as it’s more dominated by one to two people.

It’s more tiring than a normal meeting, as you’re concentrating more for non-verbal signs, putting up with irrelevant chatter (“can your hear me” at a volume so high it makes your PC shake) and stupid background noises from unmuted attendees.

How to thrive in virtual team meetings, as an introvert

  • Your own preparation: As an introvert you probably already prepare for meetings. Add to that by ensuring you are expert in the system you’re using, you’ve got decent headphones and microphone. Try not  to rely on the inbuilt speakers and mic as there’s often a short delay as they switch from listen to transmit, making it harder for your to interject. Be even more clear on the agenda than normal. Write your points down before the meeting, then rewrite them more succinctly, they’ll be easier to put across that way.
  • Helping your manager prepare: Help your manager get the meeting pack ready a week early, then you know the agenda was sent out in time for you to prepare. The big advantage of these points is they help you perform better in the meeting, and you’re seen as proactive.
  • Offering to help run the meeting: Can you help your manager by running the meeting for her (see notes on facilitating), then you get heard without having to fight your way into the conversation. Could you run the meeting from a technical perspective, muting/ unmuting and doing the slides?

Read improve team meetings for more ideas to help.

I keep hearing that introverts are struggling in many virtual team meetings; it doesn’t have to be like that. Being proactive can show you in a good light and make the meeting a more pleasant experience.

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