Making Conferences Friendlier for Introverts

Last week I attended the Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM) Aotearoa conference. I love attending conferences as it is one way of learning new things, however as an introvert, I find the whole networking side of things a bit of a challenge.  This conference, did a number of things that made things a lot easier to connect with other attendees which I thought I would share.

  1. All presentations, including plenaries, were held in rooms where seating was at tables for 6 to 10 people. This made it easy for (or you could say essentially forced) you to interact with other people at the table by introducing yourself when you sat down.
  2. Most of the presentations included activities for people to work on together, or group discussions, reflections, which again encouraged you to interact with other attendees
  3. Name badges were easy to read, and included the name of your institution. This is a useful prompt for engaging with other attendees, for example, “oh, I went to Massey, what do you do there?”
  4. A two hour gap between the last talk and the conference dinner. Engaging with people, even in fun workshops, can be draining for introverts, so a two hour gap is good for some quiet, alone time to recharge.
  5. The conference dinner was followed by a trivia quiz which allowed people to get to know each other (and their knowledge of song lyrics, movies etc).
  6. Conference organisers actively introducing newcomers to other attendees

All of the above in addition to some excellent presentations and workshops made this conference one of the most memorable ones that I have attended.