Events generally involve activities centered on networking, communication, and interpersonal conversation. They’re a time for strangers to meet and coworkers to connect. In other words, corporate events are the ideal environment for outgoing, extroverted individuals.
However, despite the notion that events cater toward extroverts, a considerable amount of event-goers are actually introverts. According to author Susan Cain, introverts make up anywhere from a third to one half of the American population. This might seem at odds with the truth, especially when you consider the concept of the “extrovert ideal”: the bold, brazen personality type that seems to thrive at these events.
Sure, overstimulating, high-energy company training events may be the corporate norm. However, it’s entirely possible to rethink events and tailor them to suit introverts—all while encouraging productive meetings and events across your entire organization.
Whether you’re hosting a staff retreat, conference, or social gathering, here are some ideas on creating a corporate event that caters to introverted team members.
Get People Talking
It’s a myth that introverts don’t like to talk. As blogger Carl King points out, once you get an introvert to talk about something they’re interested in, they could talk for days. What does this indicate? That sometimes it’s up to you to get your event participants talking.
Experiential learning sessions are immersive, hands-on training experiences that reflect real-world work scenarios. Crucially, however, these experiences don’t directly mirror real-world scenarios. Instead, they mask similarities between learning activities and a participant’s day-to-day reality by incorporating fun, engaging activities.
These learning activities help get people out of their comfort zone by creating a safe, supportive environment that naturally encourages participants to try new strategies to solve problems. By making people feel comfortable about trusting the experience, participants are drawn into the experience and, therefore, into relationships with their group.
Because they are part of an immersive experience, they are less likely to feel self-conscious. Ultimately, experiential learning activities draw people out of their comfort zone at a relaxed pace.
Break into Small Groups
Introverts often prefer friendly, one-on-one conversations. In this regard, big groups can be overwhelming—especially when strangers are thrown into the mix.
Events are an ideal time to divide large groups into smaller teams. Break your attendees into pairs or trios and instill passion, not just competition, in the form of group activities. Focus on internal competition, where individuals are invested in both the process and the outcome of the activity.
Another technique that inspires similar results in medium-sized groups is the implementation of round-table discussions. Gather eight to 10 people per group and challenge them to answer questions or work through certain situations. Appoint a group leader to ensure that everyone has a chance to voice their opinion.
Leverage Your Social Power
Many introverts like to think before they speak. As Cain claims in her book Quiet, introverts often feel like they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. To allow introverted attendees time to collect their thoughts—and write them down—consider implementing social media and social networking into your corporate event.
Send out a company-wide question or situation via Twitter or Facebook several weeks before the event and encourage event participants to comment. Let them know that you will be selecting several responses and reassure them that no further action—such as speaking in front of the group—is necessary.
Sending messages via social media allows team members to think on their own time. Plus, it also encourages audience participation days or weeks before the event even begins.
Provide Time to Recharge and Refuel
Another myth surrounding introverts is that they don’t like to go out in public, according to King. The truth is that introverts absorb data and experiences quickly and look forward to processing their experiences. In other words, introverts appreciate time to recharge.
It’s important to positively engage introverted individuals during your event. However, it’s equally important to offer them some sort of refuge. Designate dedicated quiet spots or an on-site café or conference room as a refuel station for coffee and tea. While it’s tempting to jam-pack your day with activities, make sure you provide time for team members to process what’s happening around them.
Ultimately, it’s important to add a little variety throughout your corporate event to keep all participants engaged. Schedule events outdoors, take breaks in different areas of the space, and keep your participants moving when possible. The more you make your introverted team members feel comfortable, the more willing they are to participate and engage with the training.