The Introvert’s Guide To Surviving TEDxTownsville
Listening to Susan Cain talk about the power of introverts on the TED stage was a life-changing experience for me. It was probably the first time I had heard anyone say anything good about introversion, let alone defend it in such a passionate and well-thought-out way. An introvert myself, I began to see these personality traits in a new light — as unique strengths — not something I needed to overcome or be ashamed of. Most importantly, I understood how being an introvert doesn’t mean we’re anti-social, we just have a different way of being social.
A TEDx event is a great place to meet some pretty amazing people, and you really don’t have to “act like an extrovert” to make the most of your time there. Instead, here are some things you can keep in mind to help you get through the day:
1. Plan ahead. Introverts generally aren’t big fans of surprises. So we prefer — and are rather good at — planning ahead. There are things you can do before the event to help you feel more relaxed and ready for the day. For starters, see what it's like to attend TEDxTownsville to get a better idea of what to expect. If possible, become a volunteer. It’s much easier to interact with new people around a specific task. Make use of the community’s online presence to engage and form connections in the lead up to and beyond the event. Lastly, try and get there early. It’s less stressful than walking into a crowded room, and gives you time to familiarize yourself with the space before it’s filled with noisy people.
2. Think quality, not quantity. Reframe networking in a way that suits you. Introverts like to connect one-on-one, and have fewer but more meaningful relationships. So instead of worrying about working the entire room, focus on finding just one or two ‘kindred spirits’ you can connect with. Reach out to that one person you feel good being around, that you want to get to know better and want to stay in touch with. This takes the pressure off you having to network, and it’s the kind of interaction that comes more naturally to you as an introvert since it feels authentic. The lack of pressure allows conversations and relationships to grow organically.
3. Smile. Being at a social event can be overwhelming, and at times intimidating, for introverts. It’s hard enough to resist the urge to hide out in the background with your phone, forget actually talking to someone new. Here’s the good news — you don’t always have to initiate the conversation. Just be sure to hold your head up high, make eye contact, and smile! Smiling can help us introverts appear more approachable, it gives off a positive vibe, and makes it easier for others to come up and start talking to you.
4. Skip the small talk. “The problem most introverts have with networking is not talking to strangers but rather making small talk with strangers”, says Susan Cain. We prefer to have deep discussions over issues we find important. Here’s where introverts can make the most of their personalities. Many introverts are highly curious, and have a great love of learning. Tap into that character strength and use your natural introvert talent of asking lots of interesting questions and listening intently to the answers. Just remember not to go overboard with the Q&A — make sure to offer a few comments of your own!
5. Take time out. Don’t feel pressured to be “on” the whole time. Introverts tend to draw energy from their inner world. We feel good when we turn inward, it enables us to think deeply and reflect. This also helps explain why introverts like calm environments, it’s easier to turn inward when we don’t have to deal with external stimulation. So honour your need for some quiet time to process everything you’ve just seen and heard. It’s perfectly fine to go off by yourself for a while — take a walk, savour a cup of tea — whatever you need to recharge your batteries and come back stronger.
Introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world. If you’re an introvert, give yourself permission to be yourself without feeling guilty for it. “Make your contribution because of, not in spite of, your introvert qualities.” Check out more from Susan Cain in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and website Quiet Revolution.
TEDxTownsville 2016 will be held on Saturday, 17th September, 2016. Applications to attend are currently open, apply now!