Planning events for introverts
Whether planning the Christmas party, next exhibition, staff briefing or networking event, do you ever consider the ratio of introverts to extroverts in your audience?
I spent the early part of my career aiming to engage an extrovert audience. The majority of our clients and employees were serving or ex-military, civilian pilots, engineers and cabin crew – all famous for their ability to socialise. Corporate hospitality was often a sporting event, employee parties were always in fancy dress and exhibitions encouraged physical participation. It was easy to see if we’d achieved the engagement we sought, and feedback was forthcoming.
However, my true ‘stripes’ were really earned when I found myself toe-to-toe with a whole different kind of audience – introverts. No longer was it easy to see if my audience was having a good time or not and I had to find new, more refined techniques to engage them. I also had to alter my understanding of what a successful event looked like as introverts tend to engage in a quieter and more considered fashion.
Interestingly, most of those who take on the responsibility of organising social occasions tend to be extroverts. I thought, therefore, that it may be useful to share a few examples of how you can better meet the needs of the introverts among your audience:
Think about your design and layout differently. This isn’t just about what looks good but rather how someone can understand what you do without having to talk to you. Think about what your stand looks like from a distance – is your display communicating your key messages? I don’t just mean in terms of words but the kit, images and activities too.
Activities from afar. Consider an engagement activity that you can be involved in from afar. Some good examples are technical or cyber challenges that can be accessed via personal devices or social media.
The importance of brochures. Whether physical or digital, they need to be easy to access, without having to ask for one. Equally vital is that your brochures really do stand up on their own, without a preceding conversation. They must carry your key messages for that event and need to encourage the reader to act, whether it be to get in touch or visit your website.
Who’s on your team? It’s likely you are going to have to work a bit harder to encourage your shy guests along. One way of doing this is to make sure your planning team includes other employees, especially other introverts. These members are going to be key in helping you to create a more balanced event and in sharing your event plans with others to encourage them to come along.
Fringe events. Where introverts may not be keen to get up on the dancefloor, make sure you have smaller, more intimate activities going on. For instance, I’ve had successes by including retro gaming areas and holding events in science museums amongst the exhibits.
Soft drinks. It’s worth upping your soft drink game as demand will be higher amongst introverts. It’s about making sure a non-alcoholic drink doesn’t feel like an afterthought. Non-alcoholic cocktails are generally a hit as long as they are made with as much consideration as the real thing - there are some really good alternatives to spirits such as gin these days. Posh and locally produced fizzy drinks, low and non-alcohol beer can also a good idea. It’s not just the introverts that will be happy, but those who are pregnant, the drivers and the health conscious too.
Get used to early arrivals and early departures. It’s more likely that your guests will turn up on time and leave after the main event or meal. Don’t take it as a sign of an unengaging event, it’s more likely that your guests have had enough socialising for one day. Make sure your timetable and logistics consider this. Maybe draw the event to a close a bit earlier and consider moving to a smaller room after dinner so your event maintains its buzz.
But these tips are by no means exhaustive. What successes have you had by considering both introverts and introverts in your planning and execution?
Perhaps you’ve attended an event that has really impressed you – share the love and give the organisers a mention and comment below.