Most people assume I am an extrovert because I attend a lot of events, speak in front of huge audiences and coach leaders. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Meetings, conferences, networking and events come standard with any leadership position; for some, being a professional extrovert comes naturally, but for others like myself, it’s hard work.
The truth is, I am an introvert who operates in an extrovert world. I am really quite terrible at small talk. At a party, I feel much more comfortable sitting in the corner and conversing with three people all night than I do “working the room.” However, for a leader, this is not a realistic approach to take at events. Here are three ways I overcome:
1. Do Some Prep-Work
I carry a cheat sheet with me of recent movies I have seen, books that I have read or podcasts that I have recently discovered because I love to share those things. What do you love? Sports, the music industry, new restaurants—no matter what it is, take time to prepare “CliffsNotes” of the names and a few fun facts so you do not forget in the nervousness. I love new discoveries and being able to tell people about them. It also gives me something that I know I can talk about. Otherwise, I end up talking about my job, which is really boring to everybody, except maybe my mom.
2. Dress One Beat Above the Rest
Dress codes are at an interesting place right now. Back in the ’60s, the dress code was either a blue or black suit, white or blue shirt and always a tie. That tradition has held for a long time, but nowadays, I am finding myself in meetings where people are not wearing ties. In a lot of cases, they are not even wearing suits. The changing nature of dress makes it difficult to know what to wear; however, well-curated events will give you recommendations for attire or things. Pay attention to them. Society and culture are changing, but we want to maintain relevancy and style while always dressing one beat above the rest. Dress well and it will help you exude the confidence you need to succeed.
3. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
It seems simple; however, as leaders, we often times become bogged down by the amount of time we spend at events. Remember to enjoy the event. If you catch yourself critiquing or analyzing, force yourself to relax. When we can learn to appreciate the events we are attending it helps us not only feel more comfortable and open to having genuine conversations. If you manage to have a good time, you might not dread attending the next event!
Whether you are attending a semi-casual social event or a formal gala, I hope these three tips will ease your mind as you prepare to engage with your peers.
Question: What do you to prepare for an event?