Have you ever been told by your boss that you need to speak up more at meetings? Have you been frustrated that a few people seem to dominate every conference call?
If you are an introvert, meetings are places where you can influence change AND be recognized for your value. I have learned a great deal from research for my books The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence about how to make the most out of the meetings you lead and attend.
So what do successful introverted leaders recommend? Consider these 5 meeting tips for introverts (I’s) that extroverts (E’s) can learn from as well.
- Get hold of the agenda. Take prep time to think about your comments and questions beforehand. This caters to your introverted sweet spot of preparation and allows you to confidently present your thoughts. No agenda? Offer to create one and your teammates will be grateful that someone is taking the organizational reins.
- Arrive at meetings early. Get there 10 minutes before start time. You then have your choice of where to place yourself. Resist the urge to sit in the back of the room. Build rapport with people by using your strength at conducting low-key focused conversations. Arriving early to conference calls also offers opportunities to conduct some chit-chat and make sure any technical bugaboos are handled.
- Use technology to hear from more I’s and E’s. Author and entrepreneur David Rose of M.I.T. has invented a “Balance Table” with hundreds of L.E.D’s that light up when people speak. He found that this awareness of patterns in the conversation encourages people to take turns and encourages both introverts AND extroverts to speak their minds.
- Get your voice in the room. Use your great listening and synthesizing skills to summarize the discussion. Pulling ideas together is a critical role throughout all phases of the Meeting Canoe in Let’s Stop Meeting Like This. Also ask your question or make your comment in the first 5 minutes (the “First Five Minutes Rule”). It becomes more difficult to speak up as time goes by.
- Use introvert-friendly techniques. Try pausing for a few seconds in between topics to let thoughts land. Use an effective brainstorming technique called Brainwriting. You put a problem at the top of a sheet and ask for solutions. Pass it around the table. The first person puts their idea on the sheet, and the next builds on it or writes a new idea. The solutions that emerge are more robust and inclusive than if shouted out in the typical brainstorming way.
Apply these tips for introverts and see the effectiveness of your meetings increase. It is important that we pull the best from all participants, and meetings can be great springboards for innovation and performance if you add some of these ideas to the success themes profiled in Let’s Stop Meeting Like This.
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. is an author and international speaker who is hailed as a “champion for introverts.” Her bestselling books The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence have been translated into multiple languages including Chinese and Spanish. Take The Introverted Leader Quiz at jenniferkahnweiler.com and follow her on Twitter at @jennkahnweiler.