There are lots of times when being an introvert can be good for your career, but meetings are rarely your chance to shine. More naturally extroverted colleagues tend to hog the limelight and you are left cursing yourself for not speaking up and showing what you can contribute to the discussions. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have good ideas, but you’re just not able to showcase them at the right time, so it can feel like this is holding you back in your career.
But what can be done? Unfortunately there’s no sign that meetings are going to become less important as a part of workplace culture anytime soon, so it’s up to introverts to find ways to utilize their particular skills to emphasise their qualities rather than the areas where they struggle.
So here are nine ways introverts can shine in a meeting:
Use the agenda to plan ahead
If you aren’t as good at thinking out loud, you need to be able to take your ideas in fully-formed so that you can share them. Read the agenda if possible and start to think about things you can say ahead of the meeting, making notes that you can take in.
You might think that something like coffee would help stimulate your body and mind to be more extroverted in a meeting, but over-stimulation can actually exhaust you and send you further into your shell, so try swapping it for a calming camomile tea instead.
Get there early and make small talk
You enjoy small talk about as much as you enjoy meetings, but participating in some of the former can actually get you warmed up and ready to impress in the latter, so try and get to the meeting early to talk to other people in a less formal setting.
Look interested and enthusiastic
Fake it until you make it, basically. Even if you are lacking confidence on the inside, using positive body language like sitting up straight and leaning forward to speak can actually boost your testosterone and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Say something early on
The longer the meeting goes on without you having contributed, the more nervous you are likely to get and the less likely you are to speak up, so try to ensure that you have something to say early on. Find something in the agenda that you can contribute to.
Don’t let people rush you
While you will want to avoid seeming like a shy introvert in meetings, that doesn’t mean falling into the trap of going against your own nature and looking foolish. If you need more time to answer a question, ask for the time and have people come back to you when you’ve had the chance to come up with a strong answer.
Give yourself the role of summing things up
Introverts are typically very good at listening and forming concrete conclusions, so take notes during the meeting and offer to run-through actions and key aspects at the end, giving yourself an important role and something to say.
Follow up on your terms
As an introvert, you much prefer dealing with people on a one-to-one basis, so instead of sitting through a meeting without speaking and them admonishing yourself afterwards, use the opportunity to find topics that you can pick up with colleagues in smaller meetings afterwards. This gives you the chance to contribute more in a more comfortable setting.
Get more practice
Like any workplace skill, the more you attend meetings, the better you will be in them. So try asking to be involved in as many relevant meetings as you can, and keep working through these tips to build up your confidence and also your profile at work.
You can read more about these tips in this infographic from On Stride Financial, and if you follow them, you’ll soon be the star of every meeting you’re involved with.
Luke Doyle writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios and is based in Manchester, UK. When not sharing content, Luke’s passions include traveling and photography.
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