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4 Ways Introverts Can be Heard in Team Meetings

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As an introvert in the workplace, I’ve had to learn and practice ways to share my ideas. Team meetings are great avenues for brainstorming, planning and following up on projects, but for introverts, they may be sources of anxiety and discomfort.

I’ve learned I do my best work when I can take time to reflect, develop and present a well-thought-out idea. I can’t always do my best thinking on the spot during a brainstorming meeting, and it can be difficult to interject in a talkative group.

As a team leader, encouraging your whole team to bring their thoughts and opinions to the table takes intentional planning, but has the potential to bring out the best in each team member.

Here are a few tips to cultivate a productive environment for your whole team during your next meeting:

  • Send out the agenda earlyGetting a meeting agenda out in advance gives your team time to review it thoughtfully. This greatly reduces the anxiety of being put on the spot during a meeting. Sending an agenda in advance gives introverts the opportunity to prepare by organizing thoughts and ideas. I may even gather relevant materials for reference, or write a bulleted list of thoughts to make sure I don’t forget to bring something up.
  • Make sure every voice can be heard – Extroverts are normally more comfortable thinking out loud, which is great for brainstorming. To ensure your introverts can interject as well, ask your team for any last thoughts before shifting away from a topic. This creates an opening for introverts to speak up rather than having to compete with others for their voice to be heard.
  • Take a break and then follow-up – Even with the opportunity to contribute, some introverts need time to digest and think through everything they heard in a meeting. Schedule time later in the week or put time for follow-up on the next meeting agenda. I often need time to myself after a meeting to get a cup of coffee and review my notes. This extra time for things to settle sometimes generates ideas I didn’t think of on the spot during the meeting. Knowing I can bring them up for discussion later assures me my opinions are valued – whenever they are brought to the table.

This last tip applies to all team members, but is especially important to introverts and to newly forming teams.

  • Create a respectful environment – Disagreeing is a natural part of team dynamics. We all have different viewpoints, and a productive discussion can challenge and enhance an idea. But if I make a comment and receive a condescending response, I very quickly start second-guessing my contributions. I’m more likely to hold back during the remainder of the meeting. Sarcastic and condescending comments may be meant as jokes, but they risk isolating team members. Consider agreeing on team meeting ground rules and emphasizing the value of respecting all viewpoints.

Curious if you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between? Take this quick 10-question quiz to learn more, and read all about each type here.

Any other tips or advice from my fellow introverts? Please share your great ideas in the comments.

Kaitlyn Boller is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Kaitlyn Boller

Thanks Adrienne! If appropriate for your meeting, consider getting your team involved by assigning a rotating facilitator or timekeeper, and ask project leads to bring updates to share with the group.

Profile Photo Brenda Dennis

Great post Kaitlyn!
Adrienne, I have found that having a well-structured agenda can really help an introvert lead a group of extroverts through a meeting and helps it to not get away from you. Just make sure you have a “parking lot” for things that are off topic but you don’t want to lose.

Carol Davison

I’m an extraverted introvert, meaning that eventually people exhaust me, but no one believes me. When I get home at night I turn off the phone and lock the door and only have energy to socialize on the weekends. This is what I do: 1. Send out agenda and briefings ahead of time asking people to come to meetings perpared to discuss them. 2. During meetings it would be wise for the facilator to call on introverts last so they get an opportunity to think items of discussion over before they have to speak. 3. At the end call on people who didn’t say much. 4. You don’t have to faciliate every meeting. Its good leaderhsip practice, and conserves your people energy as well, to develop faciliation skills in other anyway.

Julia Taylor

Great post, Kaitlyn! I’m the first to tell you I’m a total introvert. In big meetings, I’ll often subtley raise my hand to speak but others in the meeting will just start talking. I often end up convincing myself that what I was going to say must’ve not been that important since no one ever called on me. I’m willing to bet this happens all the time to other introverts too. If you have introverts on your team, make sure you watch for the subtle signs that they have something to say!