Recently a non-profit group that I am a board member of held an Introverts Ball during their inaugural conference here in Eugene. I had never heard of such an event and was pleased to see that it was highly successful by all accounts.
The conference was for writers from around the nation, and the board wanted to do something new with their attendees’ time (not being a writer I have no clue how you spend your time but obviously it is not attending a ball)! An invitation was created with 23 reasons as to why you should attend their ball. The reasons included:
- “You find small talk incredibly cumbersome - we promise NO small talk” or
- “Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you - bring a book or your computer” and
- “You alternate between phases of work and solitude and periods of social activity - by Friday night you’ll have had work and solitude. It’s time to at least pretend to get social and you can always consider it good material for that next chapter”.
In all honesty, some people are far more comfortable in the classroom setting than in a social environment, and the Introverts Ball was created with them in mind. Any event is bound to be a mix of personality types, both extroverted and introverted. There are some ways that you can help introverts feel more comfortable, whatever the situation:
It begins with your initial communication – print, social media or digital. Help each attendee feel welcomed and not stressed. Don’t overwhelm them with all the small details.
- Make sure that your event has ample spots for small group interaction – a few chairs or couches grouped together are perfect.
- Have beverage stations located strategically around your venue – everyone needs to stay hydrated. Those locations can become small impromptu conversation locations.
- A smile goes a long way in making feel someone comfortable.
- If an introvert is talking to you, really listen to them. Maintain eye contact.
- If you see someone by themselves, approach them and start a conversation. However don’t ask yes or no questions. Ask them something about themselves. And, bring another person into the conversation. There’s safety in small groups.
I enjoy interacting with people and networking, but as a professional meeting planner and a Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) representative I certainly understand that not everyone is wired like I am. Recognize that attendees will come from varied backgrounds and will be bringing specific needs to your event with them. I’m great “being on” all day long but others can only interact for brief periods of time. When you recognize this, you have developed a great foundation for your event to build upon.
Bring your CVB into the picture early in your planning process. As you start to dream, contact me and let’s plan your best event yet. All introverts invited!