Audience engagement is harder than ever. Every audience is segmented and has different interests and ways of engaging. Because of the influence of technology, people are further distracted and segmented.
One key differentiator in every audience is some members are extroverts, and some are introverts. The fundamental difference is where the person gets their energy.
Extroverts get their energy from the external environment, and they often thrive in meetings and face to face encounters. Introverts get their energy from reflecting inward and for some, spending more time alone. For some introverts, the thought of networking with strangers is exceptionally daunting, and they withdraw.
Make your meetings more inclusive of introverts:
Introverts are a diverse group and have varying degrees of introversion.
Introverts have a very different experience in an audience. Unless you work to engage them, they may miss out on your key message and skip out on future meetings altogether.
At least one-third of people are introverts, according to Corporate Motivational Speaker Speaker Susan Cain. It pays to understand this audience segment and cater to their needs to keep them engaged.
Here are Some Ideas:
Most importantly, introverts need to process information (alone or with trusted people they are comfortable with) before speaking up and contributing to the conversation. Thus, find opportunities to allow introverts to have downtime to break apart information and personalize it for themselves. Meeting agendas should be sent out well in advance and if possible, give everyone a chance to ask questions or comment.
I don't think introverts like to be labeled introverted. In the end, we are all people, and we are all different. If someone doesn't engage in a meeting, it may be because the format is too daunting for them.
Never put an introvert on the spot, it could easily backfire. As a funny motivational speaker, I have learned this the hard way. I like to roam through the audience and interact with people. I use comedy to break down the tension. However, even laughter won't compensate for someone who feels embarrassed, being forced to speak up in public. Extroverts thrive in public interaction; introverts often don't. However, they can if it is approached correctly.
When an introvert does speak up, encourage them.
If I want to engage an introvert publically, I prepare them in advance, letting them know what that interaction will look like. This way they have the opportunity to think through what they want to say. Many introverts love the chance to speak up and have peoples attention. However, they don't get the kind of circumstances that allow them to feel comfortable. The key is to prepare an introvert in advance.
Address introverted audiences concerns in a speech and welcome them to the experience. Let them know their voice is valued. I don't do this by singling out introverts and labeling them, instead, I may tell a story about being shy in a social environment, and this breaks the ice. Also, give everyone time to respond and contemplate your ideas.
I find some audiences (like accountants or very technical professions), introverts make up a higher percentage of people, thus these talks may be less interactive and allow more time for individual thought.
I believe every audience member wants to be engaged and wants to be heard. Remember not to exclude introverts because they are a precious part of the group. Many introverts don't jump up and down to attract attention. Instead, they quietly do their job, often going above and beyond. They may even shy away from conflict and go the extra mile to avoid it. Thus, they work hard and may not feel recognized or understood. Remind introverts how valuable they are and congratulate them on specific achievements. Ask them if they like this kind of feedback in public.
Also, ask for written feedback after a meeting to understand how all audience members engaged in the experience.
Are you an introvert? What are your thoughts?