If you’re an introvert you may relate to this. There’s a big meeting, a heated debate, to discuss an important topic. People make bold statements. Some are very loud. Then they retract and revise again after they heard more information (or thought about it a little longer). You want to contribute, but it seems to go so quick that you can’t form a cohesive thought let alone articulating it.
It’s not your style to blurt out and take others through your thinking process. You much prefer to present them the result.
Amy Snook is the COO of Haus and an introvert herself. She recently shared some tips on elpha.com how she makes her introvert qualities work in her favour.
„Lean in to your natural desire to have meaningful 1:1 conversations.“
She advises to use 1:1 meetings with peers and managers to talk them through your thought process. It’s important you explain the rationale for your decision and how you use your judgment. This builds trust and Amy goes on to explain:
A format that continues to work for me in 1:1s with team members is: 1. What do I need them to know?, 2. What do they need me to know?, 3. Are there things they’d like to workshop together?, 4. Feedback (both positive and critical).
„Ask for structure and be prepared.“
Depending on the topics and the participants every meeting needs a different structure . You may have to experiment a little until you find one that best suits your meeting. A structure gives everyone in the room an opportunity to speak and more to prepare as well. Then the information people present are valuable and factual instead of a best guess. You’ll have less of „let me get back to you on this“ as well.
„Relatedly, carve out specific time for prep.“
If you confuse people, you lose people. Preparing your thoughts, what you want to say and how you want to say it (besides getting the facts first) is a huge benefit. Your message will be more concise and understandable for everyone. And Amy mentions another benefit: „bonus, I’ve basically already written the recap email that I was probably going to send after the meeting“.
„Use written communication to your advantage.“
Writing things down helps you structure your thoughts. Hone those skills and get even better at writing. You can send thorough emails to prepare and summarise meetings, write out announcements, prepare decision makers for the conversation by giving them all the facts in writing before you discuss it…. the opportunities are endless. The best tip on writing is to separate the writing from the editing process. Any writer will tell you: Your first draft is shitty – on purpose. It’s meant to get the words on the page. The gold is in the editing process and it’s best to have some time between.
To all these great tips I’d like to add one that you can use during the meetings:
Instead of making a statement, ask a question.
I would argue that an introvert’s issue in large meetings is not with speaking. It’s with making statements and presenting thoughts or ideas you had no time to think through.
I find that asking a good question is often much more helpful than making a statement. You’re not asking to get an answer, but to get the room thinking in new directions . Introverts are great at asking questions that advance the thinking of the group.