Introvert Leader? 3 Ways to Ace Meetings

As an introvert do you feel that extroverts tend to move up the ladder quicker?

Do you think that introverts have a problem with communication skills?

Do you consider being an introvert is the same as being shy?

Well, three yes in a row from a client and I knew I had to help my client get some clarity. He shared how he felt out of place in a crowded social gathering, had trouble to express himself orally than in writing, and declined joining his colleagues for lunch post their loud meetings where everybody was promoting why their idea was the best.

Are you also one of those introvert leaders who sits alone and ponders over your cellphone during lunch than chat with your colleagues?

A common misconception held at the workplace is that extrovert behavior is the way to go. That introvert talent is not engaging, leading, and proactive.

So, let’s begin with dispelling few misconceptions. As an executive coach, I often meet introvert leaders who are not big talkers. They love listening to others while taking their time to process their thoughts. When they are in a meeting they tend to listen, think, and only speak when they feel like they have something worthwhile to say. Not that they are shy or timid. On the contrary, they could be the most assertive and confident of all. It’s just that most introvert leaders get drained more quickly by stimulation from people, noise, and chaos than extrovert leaders.

In fact, studies have proven how introvert leaders are prone to being more creative, conscientious, have more ideas, give up less easily on difficult tasks, and make more efficient CEOs than extroverts.

Jack Welch commented “the extroverts would argue that they never heard from the introverts”. Yes, as an introvert, you need to find out ways to make yourself heard especially in meetings. Attending meetings isn’t generally what introvert leaders add to their list of hobbies on their resume and on the contrary, they may find meetings tedious. While doing away with meetings altogether isn’t an option, there are 3 ways in which the “more-thinking-less-talking” leaders can make their point, and have it heard too:

 1. PREPARATION

It’s a good thing if you believe in thinking before speaking. The problem is when you take a bit too much time in thinking and lose your opportunity to speak. One way to rectify this is to come a bit prepared. Keeping your thoughts prepared ahead of the start of a meeting will help you form a certain unique perspective on the subject as well. Preparing your thoughts doesn’t mean listening less during the meeting, and only looking to make your point. Not listening will only lead you to assume what others are saying, and that will do you no good either. So, prepare for your meeting, listen to others, build your response, and speak.

2. ACTION OVER THOUGHT

Yes, in a fast-paced discussion or meeting, though, thinking too much without saying anything can quickly put you on the sidelines. So, I suggest a middle path. Please, don’t stop thinking altogether – you must have some idea of what you want to say; but just when you get that idea, speak up! Unlike the discussions we have with friends on a lazy Sunday, office meetings can get really intense. The fast pace of these meetings can easily allow its participants to share half-baked and not too well-articulated ideas, as long as you make your point go across. The secret sauce here is to speak little louder than others in the meeting. With this higher decibel, you subtly convey that you’re entering the discussion. Remember that being able to insert comments in a flowing meeting is a muscle that you can develop with practice over time.

3. CONTENT RULES

One of the things about speaking up is that sometimes you might feel physical discomfort – sweating, blushing, getting cold hands, palpitations, etc. Such discomfort might be directly seen by your audience. If it happens to you, the best thing to do in the moment would be “let it go”. You can’t always help it. If you are blushing too much, you are blushing too much. More often than not, you’ll see that it is the content – what you say – that will weigh far more with your listeners, than the anxiety symptoms. For the long run though, practice breathing techniques and Toastmasters. You have to be confident in your mind; only then will your body feel comfortable in the situation.

Summary: Extrovert leaders, stop thinking that something is wrong with introvert leaders. They are not anti-social. They are not shy. It’s just that they like smaller social settings. They prefer deep discussions than small talk. And unlike getting mentally energized by being surrounded with people, introvert leaders get energized in silence. We all agree that talking is far easier. It’s listening that’s usually the hard part. And we like people who listen more, think more, and talk a bit less. Therefore, bearing all these qualities, it’s no surprise that so many on the introverted side, make amazing Star Leaders. After all who better than the introverts who know how to strike the balance between introspection and exploration. #BeTheStar

Comments: Are you a proud introvert? How do you voice in a meeting? How do you cope with any kind of anxiety to speak up in a meeting? I love learning from my readers. And please do share this science of introversion and executive presence.