A recent education conference I attended had a packed schedule: multiple sessions, lunch in a large common meeting area, and additional sessions afterward. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I had been networking and constantly connecting with others, which had made me feel disconnected from myself. It’s not that the conference was bad; it was amazing. However, it was also exhausting for me as an introvert to function in this space.
In my experience, conference organizers tend to focus on maximizing social interaction. There’s often a high-energy buzz with the noise and chaos serving to remind attendees that they are part of something big. With a high premium on face time, organizers often pack the schedule with opportunities to meet new people.
As an introvert, I’ve found that the opportunity to get away and reflect on what I am learning is important. Here are a few of my ideas on how conferences can better accommodate introverts:
This isn’t simply a matter of “accommodating” introverts. Accommodation suggests that there is something inherently wrong with needing silence, space, and solitude. Instead, it’s a matter of allowing all conference attendees the opportunity to thrive and get the most out of the conference. Allowing attendees to use the strengths in their individual temperaments can create a better conference for the whole group. Wouldn’t that be a conference you’d like to attend?