Introverts have (finally) started to get some positive attention. As more and more research comes to light about the personalities, needs and working styles of the introverted, who may make up as much as 50 percent of the population, according to some estimates, it makes sense for the business community to take notice.
In a culture that has praised the go-getter extrovert, being quiet and introspective in a professional setting has generally been viewed as a less-than-desirable characteristic. But for brands and agencies in the event planning and experiential marketing space, making room for introverts can actually lead to more dynamic and successful events.
How to Make Your Next Event More Inclusive and Appealing to Introverts
Designing an introvert-friendly conference may sound counterintuitive at first. Marketing and branding are nothing if not an extroverts' game, or so the conventional wisdom goes. But according to the American Marketing Association, an outgoing personality and the loudest voice are not the only ingredients for a successful marketer. Introverts are perceived as thoughtful listeners and often have heightened observation and analytical skills, which are critical for good marketers.
The most important thing for event planners and production managers to remember when designing events is that while extroverts report feeling energized and enjoy social interactions and group work, people who identify as introverts are better suited to smaller group dynamics and schedules that allow for free time where they can be alone to decompress. Here are five tips that can make your next event work for the quieter types:
1. Provide Pen and Paper
It may sound old school, but unlike their extroverted peers who process their thoughts by speaking and verbally communicating with others, introverts prefer to process their thoughts first, often by writing them down. Consider including breakaway sessions between or during presentations that encourage attendees to confer with each other in a designated area or use the time to work on their own.
2. Don't Force People to Participate
Stepping out of our individual comfort zones is a worthy and necessary activity, especially in a professional setting. However, nothing will force an introvert to hit "decline" on an invitation to your event faster than the prospect of being held hostage to the Q&A or team-building workshop from hell. (Yes, that is really what it feels like for many people). Design your Q&A and interactive open sessions in a way that allows attendees to submit questions in writing or to volunteer to speak in front of a large group should they feel inclined, not required.
3. Schedule Unstructured Free Time
Sometimes all it takes is a soothing walk around the block or a quiet area in which to enjoy lunch and process thoughts for an introvert to recharge. Setting up space that allows for quiet reflection among the bustle of your event will have an energizing effect on introverts.
4. Allow for a Slow Build
Although introverts need time to warm up to others and prefer smaller and less intense social interactions, they do enjoy communicating and networking on a deeper and meaningful level. Structure the show flow so there are opportunities for introverts to work their way up to networking and participation slowly throughout the event.
5. Make It Known That Your Event Is Introvert-Friendly
Introverts will rejoice and eagerly jump on board with an event and brand that finally takes their needs into consideration, and extroverted attendees will know that different communication styles will be present and welcomed.
Understanding what makes both introverts and extroverts tick can help agencies decide how to plan the most successful and inclusive events and brand experiences.