Thursday, March 22, 2012

Your Quiet Power in Meetings, part 2

Meetings are sometimes the bane of an introvert!  You can exert control though by doing some advance preparation.

As you know, formal meetings often have agendas, written or not.  Some meeting facilitators (is this your boss or colleague?) are either too scattered or oblivious or inconsiderate to share the agenda in advance.  

It is usually important for you, an introvert, though to discover beforehand what you can about what will be discussed to prepare yourself.  Why?  Because you are quiet, you need to be seen somehow, and you tend to be less spontaneous than an extrovert.  (An introverted exec told me simply, "I feel invisible in meetings.")  We introverts need processing time.  Being slammed with a topic and asked to talk about it with no advance warning can mean that we're not prepared with our best input and ideas.

Your strategy then is to try and get your hands on an agenda. Here's what I do.  Ask for one.  If there is none, then spend a few minutes considering what might be on docket. This is often not difficult if you know the parties involved and are keeping up with office events.  If you're really stuck, then quietly ask around if others know what will be discussed and why. I call this "scouting" for information.

With either an agenda or a best guess, your next step is to take time to think about what you might say in the meeting. In a future post, I'll share more about what you an introvert can do to plan what you'll say.  

Readers, what zany or subversive tactics have you employed to get your hands on an agenda before your meeting?  Post a comment here with your best experiences.

Adapted from The Introvert's Guide to Professional Success,  Chapter 18:  Do Your Research.  All Rights Reserved.


  1. I've been fighting this throughout my entire professional career. Even with advance preparation it's difficult to compete with the extroverts in a work group.

    1. Anonymous,
      Thank you for your comment. I read it the day it was posted though just now replying with some additional thoughts on what you said. You are so right! Advance preparation is simply something we do. More and more, I try to reframe the situation in strategic terms: what am I good at that they are not? They are good talkers but if I have put more thought into it, then usually - not always - I can still do well. Even if it's realizing that I can make my points after the meeting to the people who really matter.