Help Me, I’m an Extrovert

Ever since Susan Cain’s Tedtalk and book Quiet: Being an Introvert in a World that Just Can’t Stop Talking, I have become more attentive to introverts in my meetings, learning events and other gatherings. I work to include solo time and diverse activities to ensure individuals feel valued and heard.

While it is true that we live in an extroverts’ world and need to make more space for introverts, I’m not sure there is enough attention paid to how to engage extroverts meaningfully. This is as true for virtual settings as in-person events.

Full disclosure: I’m an extrovert. So yes, I’m writing this for myself and people like me.

Below are some ideas to consider:

1. Start with solo time. Yes, extroverts like to talk but… we often talk and then think. By being forced to reflect first and then share in pairs or small groups, we may share something more clearly and thoughtfully. This can help to level the playing field, as introverts are also greatly helped by solo time.

An extrovert’s challenge:

  • We often talk before we think, and need to be encouraged to reflect first.
  • We often process aloud and can change our minds many times while sharing each (sometimes contradictory) idea with great conviction.

Ideas for virtual context:

  • “On your own, draw what you envision ________ will look like in 5 years.” Then, “Hold up your drawing for all to see. We will then hear from each person about what it would take to get to this envisioned state.”
  • “On your own, decide on 1 word that summarizes how you are entering this meeting today.” Then, “Write that word in the Chat box. Let’s see what we see.”

Idea for in-person context:

  • “On your own, take two minutes to consider what it would take for your team to implement _____. What would have to change?” Then, “Share your thoughts with your team and name three things that would need to change. Offer a plan for doing this.”


2. Offer spaces and places to engage with the content outside the learning program. It is true that extroverts enjoy thinking aloud, so… let’s offer spaces for this. Consider using the time before and after the learning session itself. Chatting over lunch, during breaks, offline and before everyone arrives can help extroverts process and learning.

An extrovert’s challenge:

  • We often have a lot to say and take too much airspace in the learning event or meeting.
  • We need to think aloud and struggle not to do this when most engagement is in the full group.

Ideas for virtual context:

  • Invite thematic virtual lunchrooms or breakout rooms to continue talking about pressing issues connected to the learning, work or meeting.
  • Invite teams to connect in a small meeting between your sessions to help answer questions and resolve concerns.
  • Invite a second level of dialogue in the Chat box. Extroverts can thrive in this space and give more room for introverts to share their thoughts aloud.

Ideas for in-person context:

  • Create a “Doodle Wall” with a powerful open question connected to the theme of the event to engage with in the hall – in writing, drawing and talking.
  • Invite a “walk and talk” during a break to continue the topic discussion.


3. Start the dialogue before the event. Some people appreciate a phone call or pre-event webinar. Extroverts often need to process aloud to know what they think and feel about a topic. Starting this early can help everyone engage more easily.

An extrovert’s challenge:

  • We are often keen to start engaging with others, even before an event starts.
  • We often need to check our understanding of process, who is doing what, what the purpose is, and big picture items.

Ideas for both a virtual and in-person context:

  • 1-3 months before a learning event, invite participants to attend a webinar. In it you can start engagement with the theme of event and each other, answer questions, and offer pre-event work. This can be a powerful way to increase curiosity and get the ready to engage when they arrive. This need not be mandatory but can be helpful.
  • 1-3 months in advance, call a few group members for a short chat. You usually don’t want or need to call each individual, but some will greatly appreciate it – including extroverts. This call can offer time to hear what expertise people are coming with and their questions. Knowing you will invite their knowledge and stories into the session, is sometimes all people need to feel respected.


It is true we need to always ensure that introverts are respected, included, heard and valued. As well, let’s find ways to help extroverts share in meaningful ways that don’t silence others and maximize what they have to offer.

How is this ringing true for you?


Jeanette Romkema ( is GLP Senior Partner and Vision & Strategy Leader. 

Here are other blog posts written by Jeanette.

Here are other tips about working virtually.




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