Psychologists have long identified 16 distinct personality types, and those that are not mixing and mingling at your events likely belong to introverts.
Unlike their extroverted counterparts who make up the 60-75 percent of the population that amasses energy from social interactions, introverts become drained by the small talk and channel changing that often underpins socializing. The feeling can become amplified by the expectation for networking, especially among strangers. Why does this happen? Research has shown that the brains of introverts and extroverts are actually wired differently in terms of how they process rewards and stimuli; extroverts receive a flood of rewarding dopamine during flittering chitchat that leaves them excited and ready for more, while introverts experience this same scenario as a bombardment of the senses.
Introverts are clearly living in an extroverted world, but your events have an opportunity to level this playing field. Here are a few tips for easing the pain of socializing for introverted attendees.
Allow Time for Like-Minded Moments
Introverts focus on their internal worlds where they go deep into what they are passionate about “one thing at a time.” Likewise, they can become quite impassioned in one-on-one conversations that allow them to connect and go deep into something that matters to them. You can help facilitate this need by connecting like-minded attendees before the event begins. Knowing that everyone is there for the same meeting, incentive or convention is not always enough to ease the stress that many introverts feel in large social gatherings. Creating an event app that gauges attendee interests and connects like-minded attendees can serve as a built-in icebreaker that may very well ease the tension many introverts face when walking into a crowded room, especially if they do not know anyone in it. You can build on your app with dining placards that pair like-minded attendees while giving introverts a place to be and be seen.
Activity Sign-Up Sheets
Introverts are thoughtful grand observers who are more likely to join activities if given time to consider and “warm up” to them first. Allowing introverted attendees to choose their preferred activity options rather than forcing them to follow a one-size-fits-all “just roll with it” itinerary will undoubtedly increase their return on experience and your return on investment. Create an event website or app that allows attendees to cherry pick through a wide array of options and focus on what they are good at i s even better; you can even implement an area that crowdsources activity ideas from the attendees themselves.
Introverts like to know what’s on the agenda so they can be prepared for and wrap their minds around it. Giving them the scoop on guest speakers ahead of your event allows them the time they need to come up with the doozy of a question to which they are well known. They are the thought provokers, the “still waters run deep” types that enter the conversation like an elegant thief in the night who heists the jewels with a slight movement of hand. Where extroverts stir an event up, introverts flip it on its head with heightened conversation, etiquette and intellectual flair.
Allowing Time for Solitude
Although quite capable of mixing and mingling with the best of them, introverts recharge through quiet, mindful moments. If alone time is not possible, consider adding in wellness activities or team building experiences that require a thoughtful and strategic approach. Your introverted attendees will thank you.
When it comes to carving out a path to success, extroverts and introverts are equally up to the task. History is chock-full of successful introverts: Albert Einstein, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Eleanor Roosevelt and Elon Musk to name a few. And while severely outnumbered, their considerate natures, pioneering creativity and calculating minds will certainly add value to your event experience.