Helping introverted employees to be more comfortable during meetings can be challenging. They typically need more time than extroverts to process information and form ideas before sharing them. Introverts also prefer to assess situations before deciding how to act. This includes listening to others before taking action of their own.
Here are six ways to help your introverted employees feel more comfortable during meetings.
Provide an Agenda
Since introverts want to know what to expect, give all employees an agenda a day before the meeting. Include materials that might be helpful for the discussion. Having time to process the information helps introverts decide how they want to contribute. They appreciate being able to visualize themselves at the meeting and sharing thoughts with the team.
Determine Individual Needs
Privately ask each introvert what helps them feel comfortable during meetings. Since everyone has different needs, what works for one team member might not work for another. Let introverts know you’d like them to have a voice in team discussions to put them and their ideas front and center. Request ideas for ways you can support them in doing so. Tailor your actions based on individual answers.
Ask Introverts Their Opinion
If you know an introvert has something to share, ask them to do so. For instance, if they mentioned ideas to you one-on-one, ask the introvert to expand on them for the team. Inviting them to present their ideas provides a sense of importance and inclusiveness. The more you offer such opportunities, the more introverts will feel comfortable speaking up on their own.
Allow Time for Thinking
Provide time for your team to process information and create ideas. Introverts’ best ideas come when their minds are relaxed and free to consider possibilities and outcomes. You could mention the issue being discussed for the day and ask each team member to weigh in with their thoughts later. Or, you could set aside time during the meeting to reflect on a question and deliver an answer.
Make Eye Contact
When asking for input, look at each teammate in the eye while waiting for a response. Introverts may want to say something but struggle to find an appropriate time to jump in. They can be uncomfortable joining a conversation when others are freely sharing ideas. Making eye contact with individuals gives each a clear opportunity to speak. A two- or three-second glance forms a connection with introverts and reminds them you value their input.
Ask for Last Thoughts
Before finishing the meeting, ask if anyone has remaining questions or ideas. Introverts still may be processing discussion items. They could come up with additional ideas during the meeting. Allow time to revisit items on the agenda and provide additional feedback.
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