Not all of your attendees are easygoing and open to new experiences. There are some extremely valuable professionals who’d rather prefer to stay at home with a book than attend your event.
However, please, do not feel offended. These people have nothing against you or your event. These attendees have a very common psychological trait that makes them introverts.
As author and lecturer Susan Cain highlights, "Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation."
Attending events is simply not something these people will be seeking at all costs. But this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy their attending experience. They simply have different needs when socializing or exposing themselves to a stronger stimulus, such as an overwhelming conference or an intense seminar.
This means that by using simple meeting design tricks, you can help them feel good at your event. Here’s what you’ll want to do to make your introvert attendees feel welcome and comfortable:
Make group dynamics optional
Although some people might enjoy group activities, introverts may feel defensive, and while they won’t protest and enjoy the dynamic, they might feel awkward or uncomfortable. Worse, they might dread this type of activity, and obsess about it during the entire event, not paying attention to the speakers or important information.
To ease up their experience, make these group activities optional or create a space where everyone can feel safe.
For example, you could engage people in small, controlled, and thorough discussions. Introverts hate being the center of attention, but they definitely love in-depth conversations about topics that matter to them. Apart from that, they don’t like showing off their knowledge, thus you’ll want to create a comfortable situation for them to share their views and thoughts.
Let your guests have the control over their networking experience
One thing both introverts and extroverts openly dread is networking. Most people don’t like to interact with strangers—they feel awkward and uncertain about what to say. However, this is more pronounced in introverts, who’d prefer to stick to their coffee and phone, pretending to be focused on reading and replying emails instead of networking.
Again, the solution is to design a controlled networking environment. For example, you can go with B2B matchmaking. This is a technique that enables people to request one-on-one meetings at your event with those attendees who are valuable for them.
Knowing whom and when they’ll meet will make your introvert guests feel like they have the control over their networking experience, eliminating the uncertainty factor.
Provide a customizable event program
Another thing that makes introvert attendees a bit different is the need to coordinate their own agenda, alternating the breaks for rest and reflection and the knowledge sessions.
What you can do to improve their experience is give them full control over their own schedule. If you have multiple and parallel sessions, make sure you display all the necessary information about each dynamic, making it easy for your introvert guests to decide which speaker(s) they want to see, whom they want to interact with, and when they want to take a break.
Don't plan any “interaction” and “engagement” surprises
The thing that will stress out most introvert attendees is seeing the moderator take the microphone, get down from the stage, and start randomly picking attendees and asking them different questions about the session.
This is dreadful beyond imagination for introverts. Their flight-or-fight response will kick in, and they’ll feel high levels of stress.
Obviously, you don’t want this to happen. Talk to your moderators and speakers and let them know you don’t want any surprises that will force your guests to interact or engage.
As an alternative, you can improve your guests’ engagement in a very seamless way by using anonymous live polls and Q&As via event mobile apps.
Offer work spaces or lounge areas for those who need it
The main characteristic that sets introverts apart from the rest is their need to spend some time alone to reflect and reenergize. Attending an event can be overwhelming, especially considering the external stimulus.
This environment may tire out an introvert very quickly. Give them a space to escape and spend some time by themselves.
To wrap it up
You’ll never be able to accommodate to every single need your attendees have. However, to ensure an overall positive experience for everybody, you’ll want to consider these few recommendations so that introverts will feel less stressed about attending and enjoy the welcoming environment you’ve created for them.