The Introvert’s Guide to Thriving in Meetings
Breaking Myths and Harnessing Your Inner Strengths to Navigate and Excel in a Meeting-Dominated World
Surviving in this world that desires extroverts is hard.
Some meetings turn into a ping-pong match of words and opinions. This takes me out of the game field and makes me feel invisible.
Some may say, “Have you tried speaking up more?” Well… I need time to introspect and reflect when processing information before I speak. And by the time I am ready, the conversations have moved on.
Then others may respond to this and say… “Have you tried preparing for meetings?” “Have you tried recording a video? That’s a great way to share ideas without being interrupted.” “Have you tried doing 5 mins breathing exercises and doing power poses before meetings?”. Yes. Yes. And Yes. I do all of this.
But the truth is, the harder I try to fit in and speak up, the more exhausting it becomes.
It doesn’t help when I’m a new person on the team or if English is not my first language. When there are meetings after meetings where I don’t speak at all, imposter syndrome starts to kick in. “I don’t belong here”. “I should be doing more”.
However, after speaking with some of my Coho fellows, I came to several realizations.
New mindset. New Results.
First, I found that there were many of us feeling the same way. We are all feeling the pressure of how we are supposed “speak up more” in meetings in order to demonstrate our value and leadership.
The goal of this article is to dispel some myths and share some tips so that you can take some weight off of your shoulder, and navigate meetings with ease while leaving imposter syndrome behind.
3 myths about meetings
Myth 1: This is a “me” problem
Believe it or not, many of us struggle with the same doubts and worries.
Last week at work, I joined a confidence-building workshop and I shared my insecurities. I shared how each meeting felt like a paper cut. How difficult it is to speak up because I just don’t want to look stupid. After the workshop, three of my colleagues reached out to me individually noting that they have been feeling the same way. So, take a deep breath and know that you're not alone.
Are you putting too much weight on yourself?
One of colleagues who reached out after he workshop told me that they have seen me ask a question in a large forum in a concise and confident manner. We tend to overemphasize our weaknesses and focus on the things we didn’t do well.
Seek out supportive colleagues who appreciate your insights and value your unique perspective. Engage in one-on-one conversations or small group discussions where you feel comfortable expressing yourself. Together, you can create a safe and welcoming environment that fosters collaboration and respect.
Myth 2: Meetings are for extroverts
There is a medium article that talks about how “Quiet people in meetings are incredible” written by Tim Denning. He says, “Quiet people change the world because they hear things others don’t.”
Quiet people change the world because they hear things others don’t.
Your attentive listening skills, thoughtful observations, and deep thinking can lead to well-rounded decisions and effective problem-solving. So, embrace your introverted strengths and know that you have what it takes to lead.
One of my favorite Coho fellows, Greg Wong, shared a great resource for introverted designers called The Quiet Achiever by Tim Yeo. I have yet to check the course out but seeing myself reflected in leaders like Tim gives me encouragement.
Myth 3: Meeting culture can't be changed
It may seem like meetings are designed for extroverted folks, but that doesn't mean we can't make a difference. Challenge the status quo by advocating for changes that create an inclusive meeting culture.
One of my pet peeves is large-size meetings where people talk one by one like a ping-pong match. I frankly think those meetings can feel…
Exclusive. Not only for introverts but also for a newer member of the team. It’s challenging when there are inside jokes and jargon. Not to mention how challenging it was for me when I was new to English. Thankfully now we have live captioning, but with ping-pong match meetings, those captions fade out very quickly.
Inefficient. This is because only one person can speak at a time. Some people utilize chat features but not everyone types that fast. The worst is when no one is taking notes. Our conversation gets forever lost in the black hole.
For those meetings, I started to take graphic notes in Figjam to keep myself entertained. At first, I was just doing it for myself. However, when I shared my Figjam link with my peers they started to drop live comments and stamps and their ways of interpretation of the conversation. It turned into a virtual bonfire.
Here is a snapshot of how we do our Mastermind Group Session at Coho.
Shoutout to our awesome facilitator Alexis Oh who created this beautiful and inclusive Figjam space! Asynchronous communication such as Figjam It’s a great way to create a space for everyone to engage and participate.
Whether it's setting up Figjam space to encourage written input, or facilitating smaller group discussions, your voice matters in shaping a meeting environment where everyone can thrive.
Leading through action.
Being an introvert in a meeting-centric world can be challenging, but you've got what it takes to thrive. By debunking these myths, reshaping meeting dynamics, and embracing your unique strengths, you can confidently contribute and leave imposter syndrome in the dust. Start by writing a message to yourself and keeping it visible before each meeting.
Let your introversion shine, because the world needs your thoughtful insights and quiet power!