woman smiling and thriving at table with other business people at a big event

10 Tips for Introverts to Thrive at Big Events

As an introvert, big events and conferences can sometimes feel overwhelming. The crowds, constant socializing, and high-energy environments may leave you feeling drained. But fear not! With some preparation and self-care strategies, you can navigate these situations with confidence and make the most of the experience. If you’re an introvert, get ready to thrive at your next big event.

1. Set Reasonable Expectations

The first step is to set realistic expectations for yourself. I have an extroverted friend who is always “on”. His motto is that he’s down for whatever. As an introvert, I have the opposite motto! However, I’m always going to be me. Don’t force yourself to be “on” and socializing constantly. It’s perfectly okay, and even necessary, to plan for downtimes where you can recharge your batteries. Embrace your introverted nature and give yourself permission to take breaks.

2. Prepare Conversation Starters

One of the biggest challenges for introverts at events can be starting conversations with strangers. To make this easier, have some opening lines or questions ready to go. Simple things like “What brings you to this event?” or “How did you get involved in this industry?” can be great icebreakers. You can also ask people about their work, interests, or thoughts on the event itself.

3. Schedule Breaks

Intentionally build breaks into your schedule to give yourself time to be alone and re-energize. Use these breaks to check in with yourself, practice some deep breathing exercises, or simply sit quietly and reset. Don’t feel guilty about taking this time for yourself – it will help you show up more present and engaged when you do interact with others.

person attending big event meeting or lecture

4. Identify Quieter Spaces

Before the event, scout out potential quieter spaces where you can escape the crowds when needed. This could be a corner of the venue, an outdoor area, or even your hotel room. Having these oases identified in advance will make it easier to retreat and reset when you start to feel overstimulated.

5. Leverage Your Listening Skills

As an introvert, one of your strengths is likely your ability to truly listen and observe. Lean into this skill by letting others do more of the talking while you listen attentively and ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. In fact, learn to be a master at asking great open-ended and thoughtful questions. People often appreciate a good listener and conversation starter.

Push yourself to be a part of the event. Be present and talk to as many people as possible because you may never see them again.

6. Connect One-on-One

While group settings can be draining, you may find it easier and more enjoyable to connect with people one-on-one. Seek out opportunities for focused conversations, whether it’s suggesting meeting up for coffee or a meal, or simply finding a quieter corner to chat.

7. Recharging for Multi-Day Events

If the event spans multiple days, it’s even more crucial to have strategies in place for recharging your energy. Again, you’re there for a reason so push yourself to be a part of the event. Be present and talk to as many people as possible because you may never see them again. But I get it, that’s not the introvert’s way. So in addition to scheduling breaks, try incorporating some of these energy management techniques:

Energy Management Techniques

  • Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your mind and body
  • Take a few minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness
  • Go for short walks outside to get some fresh air and movement

Creating Downtime

  • Build buffers into your schedule so you’re not rushing from one thing to the next
  • Identify quiet spaces at the venue or your hotel where you can retreat
  • Be careful not to over-commit your time and leave room for rest

big conference event presentation

8. Professional Ways to Meet People

While the idea of networking can feel daunting, there are friendly and professional ways for introverts to meet new people:

Opening Lines

  • A simple “Hello, I don’t think we’ve met before…” can open the door to conversation
  • Compliment a speaker on something specific, like “I really enjoyed your presentation on…”
  • Compliment an attendee on something specific, like “I was really impressed by the question you asked during the Q&A. It made me think about [x] in a new way.”
  • Ask a post-talk question like “I really enjoyed that last speaker’s presentation on [topic]. What did you think of their key points?”

Making Connections

  • Ask about their role, company, or how they got involved in this industry
  • Look for common interests or connections you can bond over
  • Don’t be afraid to exchange contact information to follow up after the event

A little side note for this tip is that if your event has an app, use it to connect with people before the event. It’s easy for introverts to break the ice behind the screen. It’s practice for face-to-face meetings and gets you familiar with people so your approach to them at the event isn’t entirely cold.

9. Be Authentic

At the end of the day, you’ll get the most out of the event by being true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not or force excessive extraversion. Lean into your strengths as an introvert – listening deeply, engaging in meaningful conversations, and being thoughtful and observant.

10. Have an Exit Strategy

Finally, give yourself permission to leave when you need to. Set a reasonable time for yourself to depart the event, and don’t be afraid to excuse yourself once you’ve reached your socializing limit for the day. Recharge, reflect on what you’ve learned, and get ready to return refreshed.

Remember, as an introvert, big events may require some extra effort and self-care. But by setting reasonable expectations, taking breaks, and leveraging your natural strengths, you can make meaningful connections and come away energized rather than depleted. Embrace your introverted self – you have so much to offer!

Peyton is a business consultantSEO, and brand journalist. He works with non-profits, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and writers who need to improve their brand positioning and get massive traffic. Focus industries include Medicine, SaaS, eCommerce, BlockChain, Manufacturing, & Education. Peyton also volunteers for noble causes.

APANO is an organization that focuses on social equity and justice for historically marginalized people. Visit Apano.org to learn more about their remarkable work in Portland, Oregon.