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How To Survive Big Conferences As an Introvert

How To Survive Big Conferences As an Introvert


    Big conferences in any branch are exciting, filled with business possibilities and networking opportunities. However, if you are an introvert these conferences can be overwhelming, exhausting and quite damaging to your self-worth and overall feeling of social competence .

    If your natural instinct is to stay by yourself, enjoy your own company and not really be the center of a conversation, crowds and networking functions are naturally extremely stressful for you.

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    However, there are some basic tips you can use to survive any conference as an introvert.

    Make time for breaks

    Despite common reactions, it is not rude to give yourself some space in between seminars and networking occasions. Get away from the crowd, go and drink a coffee, read part of a book or simply sit in the sun in order to return to your inner happy place. These little moments of solitude will recharge your batteries and you will be able to brace yourself for some more interactions with colleagues or unknown people.

    Have conversation points ready 

    Networking can be especially tricky when you have no idea what to talk about. A good way to diminish the dread of talking to people is to have conversation points prepared before you even have the chance to say hello to a single person.

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    When brainstorming about topics to mention in interactions, you can think of anything from talking about your business branch to pets, children or hobbies.

    However, the best kept secret in that regard is to ask lots of questions. People love to talk about themselves. So, if you are not ready to share about your own life and work, ask others what they are doing, what moves them and what they are currently inspired by. Those few questions alone will keep the conversation going for quite some time and you hardly have to tap into your own life.

    Challenge yourself

    I always like to make difficult situations part of a game as I am a highly competitive person. And once challenged, I cannot help but do everything within my power to win. So, I usually set goals like walking up to five unique people in one day and start a conversation with them.

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    Or I promise to myself that I will not back out of  a conversation after only five minutes and instead keep at it for at least half an hour. I have also recently randomly sent out a tweet asking fellow attendees of a conference about their plans for the evening and then had dinner with a few amazing girls whom I’d never met before.

    These challenges help to grow your self-confidence and they hold you accountable at the same time.

    Remember the mantra: Nobody belongs here more than me. 

    You do not have to be an extrovert to be successful or allowed to take part in discussions. You can be present, but listen more than you put in. You can be part of a group, but be quiet. It is not rude, it is your personality. Remind yourself of this fact and you will see how you relax more and more throughout difficult and nerve-wrecking situations.

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    Practice 

    Practice, practice, practice. The more often you go to a conference, the better you will get at it. You will notice when you need a break. You will feel when your batteries need to be recharged and you will be able to handle situations where you`d once felt uncomfortable and on the verge of unraveling.

    Your interactions will get more fluent, your hesitations to walk up to people and start a conversation will fade away and you will slowly start to really enjoy being part of a huge group of attendees.

    These simple steps show that conferences can be fun, invigorating and exceptionally motivating, even for introverts.

    (Photo credit: Portrait of a Thoughtful Man via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

    You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

    1. Connecting them with each other

    Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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    It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

    2. Connect with their emotions

    Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

    For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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    3. Keep going back to the beginning

    Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

    On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

    4. Link to your audience’s motivation

    After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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    Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

    5. Entertain them

    While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

    Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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    6. Appeal to loyalty

    Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

    In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

    7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

    Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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