New Year’s Resolution #6 for Introverts: Master the Art of Preparation in Order to Shine in Meetings

by | Feb 21, 2024

Welcome back, fellow introverts, to my exploration of New Year’s resolutions you can (still) make today to fuel your professional growth and advancement in 2024. Today, I’m discussing Resolution #6: Master the Art of Preparation – a critical framework for increasing your becoming more effective and showcasing your expertise in workplace meetings. (Click here to read my comprehensive guide, Meeting Playbook for Introverts: 10 Strategies to Have Your Voice Heard and Your Ideas Shine.)

For many introverts, speaking up and contributing ideas around the conference table (or Zoom screen) feels daunting. Our preferences for thoughtfulness, deep reflection, and insightful analysis, while undeniably valuable, often put us in the shadow of those who respond quickly and tend to “think out loud.” In corporate cultures where extraverted assertiveness is often celebrated, we can find it hard to find adequate space and recognition for our ideas. But this doesn’t have to be a struggle. In fact, as introverts, our innate strengths can be a secret weapon at our seat in the conference room. Read on.

Why meeting effectiveness matters for introverts

First, let’s talk a bit about why establishing a powerful presence at workplace meetings matters. The way you “show up” and contribute at a meeting impacts the influence you can have on a decision or a work product. Over time, your effectiveness at meetings can impact how others view you – e.g., as a thought-leader, a competent contributor, or a wildly creative thinker – and accordingly, your opportunities for recognition, growth, and advancement. (Read more about how meetings are a critical forum for showcasing your thought leadership.)

And consider this: the average employee attends eight meetings per week, and 83% of employees spend up to one-third of their work week in video meetingswhere it is even harder to communicate through body language and other non-verbal cues. This means that if you’re failing in the meeting milieu, it’s likely to have a significant impact on your overall success at work.

How introverts can prepare to be powerful at meetings

So, what can you do? A lot, actually. Below I offer strategies help set you up to claim your airtime and command in meetings, in ways that tap into your innate introverted strengths:

  1. Anticipate meeting topics: Request the meeting agenda in advance, and if that’s not available, put on your “CSI hat” to anticipate likely discussion topics. Having this foresight will allow you to prepare relevant insights and contribute meaningfully to the conversation. While discussions will often move in unexpected directions, your prep around specific topics should reduce the need for on-the-spot strategizing.
  2. Gather information thoughtfully: With the agenda topics in hand (or at least in mind), collect and delve deeply into the information you’ll need to be a key contributor at the meeting.  Gather data thoughtfully, analyze it critically, and distill key points that align with the meeting agenda.
  3. Develop a meeting agenda cheat sheet: Using the information you gathered, craft a concise cheat sheet with key points you want to make on each topic, your insights, and any supporting data. By keeping this handy throughout the meeting, you’ll be better able to stay on track and contribute seamlessly.
  4. Create a pre-meeting routine: Develop a personalized preparation ritual that aligns with your introverted nature. Whether it involves a quiet review of notes, a moment of focused breathing, or a final review of key points, rituals can anchor introverts in a confident mindset. Rituals that include time alone or other mindfulness practices prior to a meeting can help to recharge your energy and “steel you” for the interpersonal engagement that lies ahead.
  5. Initiate pre-meeting collaboration: Find opportunities to collaborate with colleagues before meetings, especially when group projects or discussions are on the agenda. This strategy can enhance your preparation, strengthen relationships with colleagues, and establish your thought leadership before the meeting even starts.

(Now that we’ve covered some ways you can prepare for meetings ahead of time, check out my free, comprehensive guide, Meeting Playbook for Introverts: 10 Strategies to Have Your Voice Heard and Your Ideas Shine to learn about how you can be a rockstar in the meeting itself.)

 

The rewards of meeting preparation for introverts

I encourage you to “try on” some or all of the strategies above in your next workplace meeting – whether in person or on Zoom, and to reflect on the experience. I’m betting that the rewards will be ample.

For example, purposeful preparation can instill in you an unwavering confidence in your abilities, enabling you to enter meetings with assurance and contribute meaningfully to discussions. Secondly, your contributions will be esteemed for their depth and insight, rather than the sheer volume of your words, positioning you as a reliable thought-leader. And lastly, by investing energy in thorough preparation, you can optimize your contributions and conserve your introverted energy for other tasks, ensuring a balanced approach to your workday. These rewards can enhance your professional reputation while also bolstering your sense of fulfillment from the impact you’ve had. 

As you embark on this meeting mastery journey, remember that preparation is not about erasing your introverted nature but using it. In this way, you will illuminate the meeting room with your prepared brilliance.

Join me next time as we unravel Resolution #7: Embrace Stretch Assignments. Until then, my fellow introverts, may your preparation prowess be the guiding light that lets you shine around every meeting table.