How to Engage Introverts at Conferences

December 06, 2016

With up to half of the population preferring peaceful environments that promote reflection, today's extrovert-friendly event trends could alienate a significant portion of your potential audience. Not all introverts are afraid of speaking up, they simply feel most comfortable and do better work when given the space to process information quietly. Mandatory participation elements can cause significant anxiety for the introverts in our midst, but that doesn't mean your event needs to take on a library theme. Here are some key ways you can engage all types of attendees, even the ones who aren't gregarious social butterflies.

Event Communications
Keep your communication clear and purposeful. Instead of using high-energy jargon, consider what value your participants will gain and what they'll need to know about the participative elements of the event. Encourage attendees to contribute in an online community prior to the event, so that they arrive with connections and context.

Format
Gather feedback from previous attendees and your online community to keep track of what content is most valuable to your audience. Don't require them to stand up in front of everyone to share their thoughts, but do plan for smaller collaborative groups and time between sessions for brainstorming and reflection. Provide comfortable, quiet seating areas where guests can have one-on-one conversations or just recharge in peace.

Q&A
The traditional microphone at the center of the aisle invites vocal extroverts to share their thoughts and questions, but introverts are unlikely to stand up and speak out. Instead, use an event app that allows attendees to submit their questions before, during or after the presentation.

Networking
Context is crucial for introverts. Give them the tools to self-categorize during registration and schedule one-on-one time with other like-minded attendees. Consider setting up "topic tables" at your networking segment to encourage connection and collaboration without relying on natural conversationalists to guide the subject.

For more ideas about how facilitation and social media play a role in engaging your entire audience, see the full article at Event Manager Blog. Have you had success in increasing participation at your events without alienating introverts? Let us know what is working for you at #ConnectPlusDrivingResults.