Meetings are an inevitable part of professional life. Yet, they don’t have to be a burden, even for introverts. The tips below will help you keep everyone on your team comfortable and engaged, no matter how reserved they might be.
Create an inclusive, relaxing meeting space
Being an effective leader in any professional context requires you to adapt to various personalities in your group. It might be easier to acclimate to meeting with more outspoken colleagues, as they’re more forthcoming with their ideas and tend to display their interests and quirks quite freely. Plus, you hardly have to put any effort into getting to know someone who’s more than happy to chat the day away.
On the other hand, you may face a bit more of a challenge when you’re learning to collaborate with your introverted employees and teammates. By definition, these folks are a bit more reserved than others, often finding greater comfort in their own “mental self” than their external environment. Psychologists say that introverts are revitalized by taking advantage of opportunities to reflect within themselves. (As an introvert, I can attest to this fact.) Although they may enjoy interpersonal exchanges, these moments tend to drain, rather than supply, energy.
With this in mind, you’ll have to readjust your standards on what makes a professional space “inclusive.” For example, extended periods of team brainstorming or other group activities should be preceded by 10- or 15-minute breaks. Now, you might be confused about why the break should come before the team exercise. Well, you know that your introverts are bound to be exhausted after participating in lengthy discussions with their colleagues.
However, extroverts and some ambiverts may be surprised to learn that introverts need time to prepare themselves for social interactions. In a sense, these personalities need to build up the energy or gather their thoughts before joining a social scene.
Trust me; they’ll appreciate not being caught off guard and obligated to choose a group of people to work with right away. These pauses will give your attendees some time to settle and take a quiet moment to think before you launch them into a Q&A session, presentation, or other things you might have planned. Alt-text: A person sits alone at a wooden table under a beautiful chandelier, sipping from a yellow mug.
Make sure your meeting space has getaway areas
Where you meet your team matters. It sets the entire mood of the meeting and can either make your employees feel trapped or easy-going. Apart from the interior décor elements, the abundance of sunlight, or the type of floor plan the workspace has, you’ll want to pay attention to the types of amenities the rental space offers.
For instance, The Collection coworking spaces in Los Angeles come with tons of perks. Specific amenities that your introverted employees might appreciate are their lounge areas, café, and breakout rooms. Whether someone is an introvert or not, it’s pretty normal to deal with “meeting fatigue” after sitting around for half an hour, even if you were participating in the discussion. You need to give everyone some recovery time, no matter how well the gathering might be going.
Experts note that this is why student classes end before the end of the hour, at times like 11:45 or 11:50. This 10- to 15-minute buffer provides an opportunity to mentally and physically transition to the next activity. Introverts who may be fatigued from being social would appreciate being able to step out of the room and find somewhere comfortable to sip on some coffee or be still for just a moment before jumping back into a team setting.
Stay on task
One of the quickest ways to lose an introvert’s interest during a meeting is to veer off from the itinerary. To put it bluntly, it’s already a significant energy expenditure for such a reserved person to participate in discussions or social time with their coworkers. If you or another leader gets distracted and spends too much time on something that’s irrelevant to the meeting’s purpose, not only are you wasting everyone’s time, but you’re actively discouraging introverts from engaging.
Think of it like this: You ask a friend to help you run an errand for work. On your way to complete that errand, you make a stop for a different task. The first stop is not a big deal until it becomes the first of three, delaying the original objective by a significant time margin. Your friend will most likely lose interest in helping you finish the original errand now that you’ve drained their energy on everything else. Further, they’ll be less willing to join you in such chores in the future, as their confidence in your ability to stay focused has been compromised.
This is what you’re doing to those with reserved personalities when you don’t have a clear end goal and plans to bring that intention to fruition during a meeting. Fortunately, the temptation to try and discuss anything and everything under the sun during your work gathering is an easy one to overcome. Some rental coworking venues offer planning services as one of their perks. When you’re selecting your meeting venue, call the company directly and see what they can do to help you shape a clear, easy-to-follow itinerary.
Keep your introverts happy during work meetings
Everyone gets tired of meetings, but it can happen a lot more frequently for folks who prefer to spend time alone. With these tips and the right meeting space, you can make sure that even your most introverted colleagues are comfortable at the next professional get-together.