Introverts at Events: How to Create an Experience That Includes Everyone

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Episode description

Events are known to be a social experience. And while this may not be a problem for extroverted individuals, it’s important to take a step back to ensure that our introverted guests are also having a great time. But what steps can you take to reach that goal?

In this episode, hosts Alyssa Peltier, Rachel Andrews, and Paulina Giusti sit down to share their insights on how to make events more inclusive for introverts. They delve into the idea of having a planned downtime for everyone to break and recharge. And by coupling this with “do not disturb zones”, you could begin to create a safe space for more introverted guests to enjoy their meals or get work done during their break.

You’ll also hear about how technology can be used to take a bit of social strain off both your attendees and planners. By using applications that allow you to anonymously submit questions for panels, you’re able to provide an avenue for introverts to participate without having to raise their hands.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How pre-surveys can be used to gauge your audience
  • The importance of taking time to recharge
  • How introverts are accommodated outside of the event space

Things to listen for:

[02:32] Assumptions about introverts at events
[05:16] Creating event experiences for introverts
[08:04] Giving introverts a space to recharge
[12:48] Leveraging technology for introverts at events

Meet your host

Rachel Andrews, Senior Director of Global Meetings & Events, at Cvent
Paulina Giusti, Senior Manager of Meetings and Events, at Cvent
Alyssa Peltier, Director of Market Strategy & Insights, at Cvent

Episode Transcript

Rachel: Event professionals tend to over schedule things at these conferences and I’m speaking in generalities. A lot of people do it really well, but, providing downtime, like I can't tell you the number of events you go to where the general session ends, and then you're immediately on the bus to the evening event.

Give them time to go to their room for a minute because not everybody can talk all day long to everybody, and what you'll end up having is somebody that a lot of people skipping your event because they didn't have that proper time to go recharge, change, refresh, and then come back to do more networking.

Intro: Great events create great brands, and it takes a village to put on an event that engages, excites and connects audiences to your brand. And we're that village. I'm Alyssa. I'm Paulina. And I'm Rachel. And you're listening to Great  Events, the podcast for all people interested in events and marketing.

Alyssa: Hello everyone. What has been going on in this wide, wide world of events? My name is Alyssa and welcome to this week's episode of Great Events, a podcast by Cvent. So this week we are going to be talking about something that seems a little bit different for the event experience, but we're going to be talking about introverts at events. Tthose things sometimes don't necessarily go hand in hand, but we know that we are not building our event experiences for only extroverts. So it's something to consider as part of not only the event itself, but also how we accommodate the introverted event professional in the planning process as well.

So I am joined today by Paulina, um, a fellow host of mine. So we're just going to chat just candidly about accommodating all of these different types of needs and different types of personality traits at our event experiences. And I definitely can't claim to be a subject matter expert in this regard. I have done many Myers-Brigg tests and I always test positively for being extroverted over here. If I know one thing about myself, it's that I have no issues or troubles kind of being the social butterfly in a lot of these settings. So, Paulina, I don't know about yourself, however you identify. You and I were talking about that to start, just to kind of get the audience to understand who we are as individuals.

Cause you can't assume either that we're extroverts just because we're hosts. So I don't know how you identify.

Paulina: Yeah, I think I identify as an extrovert who has a threshold or a capacity of how much time I spend with other people and the intensity of how I spend that time. We were joking and I said, you know, after 10 days in Vegas, I don't think I speak to anyone other than my dog for a good 24, 48 hours.

Right. But, yeah, I'd like to, I think I consider myself, I think I've done a Myers-Briggs test, you know, a handful of times years ago, and, you know, all, you know, answers pointed to extrovert. But I do think the role as an event professional, you know, you're a customer facing, you embrace hospitality.

So there is sort of a fake it till you make it kind of notion where you're going to be welcoming to anyone who comes, you know, to your information desk or your registration desk. And I think there's an interesting layer that event organizers have you know, when it comes to cataloging themselves as introvert or extroverts.

So just an interesting thought, I guess.

Alyssa: Yeah, and I think there's a lot of assumptions that we make about introverts and extroverts, both on, uh, who comes to our events, but also on our teams. Like, I know I'm guilty of thinking like, oh, event planners like to be social, and they like to host parties, for example, right? You get into a profession where you're welcoming and you're accommodating, and you're bringing people together.

That doesn't necessarily mean that you 100% identify as that person who loves to be all consumed with people at all times too. So it's something to definitely consider in terms of the career planning side as well. Paulina being a leader of a lot of event planners themselves. So it's something to be considerate of when you're building teams and thinking about how you're fostering that type of collaboration when you're building your event experiences, not just about hosting those, those audiences as.

Paulina: Yeah, I mean, when we host some of our internal event design meetings, there's a larger team than just the event design team that we'd like to be a part of, right? We want unique ideas coming and, um, you know, thinking outside of the box and so perhaps team members joining who aren't typically a part of those conversations, you know, they might feel a little more timid in terms of contributing.

And I think, you know, technology is a great opportunity to, to leverage for, you know, people who might be introverted or, or less extroverted, if you will. And, you know, leveraging the zoom reactions, right? Raise your hand. I think, you know, extroverts have a tendency to talk over one another. 

Alyssa: Yeah, I love that, Paulina. I totally agree. So actually we're actually joined by Rachel right now. So I'd love to throw, I'd love to throw it to you, Rachel. How do you identify in this kind of world of introversion and extroversion? Both as an event planning professional, but also as an attendee at events.

Rachel: Yeah, I am straight up 50 50. I love being extroverted on site, but I need that, uh, recharge time. Um, and I think a common misconception, and I don't know if you guys talked about this, but a common misconception is that introverts are quiet, uh, and that they don't really contribute or like we overvalue extroverts in this society and treat introverts as misfits.

But it, it's actually not necessarily the case, it's just a matter of how they get their energy. So you might be an introvert, go to a meeting like this, exert all your energy into, uh, being on site and then need a couple days to regroup, like Paulina said. But then, you know, you might be a quiet introvert.

There's definitely unique strengths in both sets, both types, right. And I think there's like a healthy mix of both in, uh, a lot of people. I don't know. For me, I'm straight down the line. 

Alyssa: I, and that's something that I wanted to talk about too, was just kind of like the nuances and the differences between introversion and extroversion. And like you were just saying, Rach, it's not that introverts don't want to talk, but they're, they need more structure. In order to participate in the talking.

So for example, when you're going to a networking experience or a networking event, I think an introvert's worst nightmare, as I was Googling this to understand what do introverts like at events, I was realizing that they really hate the small talk stuff. Anything that's like not really meaningful or you're kind of like just wasting hot air, which we tend to be very good at on this podcast.

They want the chance to speak, they want to be told when and where. And you know, to be given that kind of agenda of opportunity. So certain elements of your event experience might not be as best suited for the introvert, but that doesn't mean that you won't hear their voice present throughout your experience too.

So I do think that that's something to be aware of, that we are making assumptions and not to correct or course correct.

Rachel: I know, and, and we, we like to consider that when we're planning Cvent Connect and things like that. I know, you know, introverts could be more focused on one-on-ones. They could be more focused on like a workshopy type content because they're maybe a little bit more creative or adept to like solving complex issues or problems.

Or maybe they just. Uh, they did digest information in different ways than extroverts. Um, you know, I certainly do. I'm, I'm more of a haptic learner, which is like, if I, if I don't get hands on to the problem or the issue or the topic, I'm not learning. And so I, we, you know, I think we try to take all, all of those different personality types into account.

Um, so. You know, with the content that we're doing at Cvent Connect and, and it's like we give you kind of like a cafeteria type option of what you want. You can pick and choose from. And you don't have to be the loudest person in the room, but you couldn't, you can sit in a workshop and listen and contribute it.

Maybe you're the person that's taking notes or you're the person that's whiteboarding or you're the person, you know, helping with, um, the complex things behind the scenes. But, the extrovert in the room is the one loudly speaking. I don't know.

Alyssa: Yeah. I think one of the things that, that a lot of event professionals do do a really good job is giving, um, like a level of preparedness to their audiences. So it's kind of like, you know what to expect and when you will be asked to speak as opposed to asking your audience to be put on the spot. Um, I think like that is the number one thing.

As an introvert, you just want to have awareness of when you need to be social or when you need to be on, as opposed to just being on the whole time. So that like foresight is the best plan. You know, like give them just the tools to be successful on site.

Rachel: Personally, I just spoke at an event and I, I, I am terrified of public speaking and I'm on a podcast, it's kind of funny, but I'm terrified. I get, like my whole body shakes, but it's a personal goal of mine so that that 50% of my extrovertness can come out. But after I spoke, I felt like I needed to just go into a quiet room for a minute and recharge and like, yes, there's people coming up and asking questions, but, I actually went to lunch by myself after that for, you know, just 20 minutes.

And then I was like, okay, now I'm ready to, ready to do it again. Ready to network again. But I think if you provide those moments to your attendees, I think that that really helps. Um, you know, I know you, you talked about round tables, birds of a feather meetups. That helps too. If you know you're going into a situation that you have friends in the circle, or you're only going to be talking about DEI or small meetings, you know, and not like meeting with all these people that are planning huge conferences that you have no, nothing to relate to

Alyssa: Right where you're not expecting the audience to find the commonality, it's that you as the planner are actually delivering that for them so that any kind of like social inequity or social, you know, like where you just feel socially uncomfortable is gone because you know that you have this common ground in this particular topic or this particular theme, or hey, you guys are all first timers, you're all fish out of water. Use that as the stepping stone for social engagement, and I think that will, that alleviates a lot of the burden on an introverted person for sure.

Rachel: I think, um, you know, event professionals tend to over schedule things at these conferences and I’m speaking in generalities. A lot of people do it really well, but providing downtime, like I can't tell you the number of events you go to where the general session ends, and then you're immediately on the bus to the evening event.

Give them time to go to their room for a minute because not everybody can talk all day long to everybody, and what you'll end up having is somebody that a lot of people skipping your event because they didn't have that proper time to go recharge, change, refresh, and then come back to do more networking.

Alyssa: I've even thought about things like almost like do not disturb zones or like no networking zones, which feels like the complete opposite of why you might be going to an event. But to your point, Rach, like going back to your room is one way to recharge. But also, like you mentioned, you wanted to eat lunch alone. Like there could be opportunity even in um, whole dining hall where you have tables that are reserved for quiet zones where people just need to have food alone or they prefer to eat alone, and then they can go back into all of the like major social settings that they have. So I think to your point, like in that

Rachel: We should test it. We should test it and see, I know we have wellness rooms and that's kind of similar to that, but do not disturb areas are interesting because a lot of times if I'm in an event and I need to just bang out a an hour of work, I need to go with my laptop and sit somewhere where no one bothers me because I need to focus.

Because if someone I tried to do this at, at an event recently, I tried to go and sit in their like lounge area and you know, someone comes up and

Alyssa: People want to talk to you

Rachel: They're well-meaning, but they're, you know, they're, they say, Hey, do you mind if I sit here? And then they introduce themselves and then you feel obligated to talk to them.

And I'm like, I just needed to get this, like one slide deck done, and I didn’t want to have to go all the way to my room to do that.

Alyssa: Yeah, you need the permission to be like, it's okay for me to be off to the rest of everyone else right now. Like you need, and I guess I open this with like, you need structure, you need rules, you need permission. And I think that's probably the best thing that we could offer to an introverted individual is just like the option for these things.

And also for you to say it's okay for you to be non-participatory or non-social in this setting. Right? Because you're still participating, you're just participating in a different way, or in a way that would traditionally look like something that's, you know, against the norm. 

Rachel: Is that why I like the quiet car so much on Amtrak?

Alyssa: Yeah. Yes.

Rachel: and I love the feature that, I forget which Rideshare Company came out with it, but it was like you could select if you wanted a driver that didn't talk to you or not. 

Alyssa: Right

Rachel: That's a, that's a little too antisocial for me. I'm okay talking a little bit in the car, but it's kind of interesting, right?

Like you selecting that could mean that you just need time to just breathe on your own and be in your own brain with your own monologue.

Alyssa: Yeah, and, and it gives even the driver an understanding of like, okay, this person just doesn't necessarily want to be talked to right now. And that's okay. It's just giving everybody the rules to follow the rules of engagement, which I think is important when we've got seas of people coming to our events.

Um, I know Paulina and I talked a little bit about technology too at the start of this conversation. I think it's really great. How technology kind of creates equality across all of our participants in a way where like, you don't have to raise your hand, you don't have to get on your microphone to ask a question any longer.

You can just submit it through a mobile app and you can either be anonymous, so if you're feeling too shy or you just don't want to be on that microphone, or you don't want to have your name associated with a question, I think technology is a really like equalizer for event experiences. I know we've also seen that with virtual events as well and hybrid events, giving individuals the option to not even have to be present on site.

So I don't know if you've had any other ideas about how technology helps in that, Rachel, but I do think the mobile app and questions is like, is a huge game changer for different personalities at events.

Rachel: Yeah, I mean, surveys pre-event to what people want. Um, polling people so they're not like, I know it's so dumb, but like raising your hand might be like, even that's too much for someone. So polling and that offering that option to give feedback or, you know, putting your QR code. What I did at a session is put my QR code to my LinkedIn and I said it's okay if you don't want to come up to me and talk to me afterwards.

Um, but feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to chat with you on dms there. Um, And versus talking in person, like giving people other options, I think it is a good idea.

Alyssa: Yeah, I think so too. I think that everybody has their, especially nowadays, different ways for social engagement now that the options are almost like limitless, social media being one of them mobile apps tied to conferences or events being another. But yeah, I wouldn't have even thought about that as like an additional, the follow up piece, not even like participating in the event.

Rachel: A random one I just thought of was, um, oh shoot. Uh, silent discos where you don’t have to talk to anybody, but you can still dance.

Alyssa: Yeah. Although I tend to think that's still a pretty extroverted activity. You have to look like a big weirdo.

Rachel: Yeah, maybe that's just a personal preference. I don't know if that's extroverted. 

Alyssa: Well, I think this was a really great conversation, Rach and Paulina, thanks for joining this chat. We call them hosts, riffs, where we're just kind of spitballing and thinking of ways that we can accommodate different types of attendees, different types of event professionals.

You know, as always, thanks for joining us. Listeners, send us a message, however you want to engage with us, because we can't see you guys, but send us a message on LinkedIn or a note at greatevents@cvent.com if you don't like to use LinkedIn,  we'd love to hear from you. We love your ideas, keep them coming.

But once again, thanks for tuning in to Great Events.