It's Monday, we are a week away from the Idea Summit, and the introverts are getting nervous. The extroverts are getting pumped up like a boxer before entering the ring. At the same time, the introverts are dreading hanging out with 300 of their Senior Pastor's closest buddies.
I feel your pain. I am an introvert to the core. According to Meyer-Briggs, I am an ISTJ (introvert, sensor, thinker, judge), to be exact. I get exhausted watching Josh Teis run around a room talking to everyone he can meet. For Josh, these events are like a Vitamin B-12 shot; he walks into the room and is alive. On the other hand, I am looking for the 2 or 3 people I know the best and just hangout with them all day. So I want to encourage us introverts to follow a few simple suggestions to get the most out of this year's Summit.
The first thing I want to encourage you with is to smile at people. I know what you are thinking. I am wearing a mask on my face; how am I supposed to smile at someone? It simple look people in the eye and smile, your cheek bones will rise, but then wave at them at the same time. I do this every Sunday at church, and it works great. I never feel like I have to have a 10-minute conversation with that individual, but I know that I have acknowledged their presence.
Seek out new connections.
Most likely, you will know a few people in the room. Try to find a few more to meet. I am not saying to meet 300 new people. Please keep it simple, try to connect to four or five new people throughout the event. The easiest way to do that is to piggyback off of your extroverted friend's conversations. I do this all the time with Josh, He will be talking with someone, and I will speak to just one of the five guys he is talking to once his conversation ends. I meet new people, but I don't have to overload myself and get five new friends simultaneously.
Speaking up in a room of strangers is pretty scary—one of the best ways to interject yourself into any conversation is to simply ask questions. You can ease your way into a conversation this way. You ask the question, which is usually one sentence, and the person answering the question will take seven sentences to answer it. If necessary, reply with a follow-up question. What you have essentially done is made a one on one conversation with the speaker. Asking questions will give you the confidence to speak in a coaching session or a round table of 40 people.
Smiling, seeking new connections, and speaking up may be the last thing you want to do. However, if you do, you will be able to settle in and enjoy the Idea, Summitt. Have a plan going into the event that says, I will smile, meet five new people, and ask a few questions throughout the day. By the way, when we introverts engage, it helps the Summit go much better. When introverts speak up, it is most likely because they have something valuable to say. Typically the best ideas have come from the introverts who contributed, and many who contributed for the first time.
In closing, have fun, meet a few people, don't feel pressure to be the star of the show. I am praying that this Summit will help you and your ministry team as you seek to make disciples for Jesus.
Executive Pastor - Southern Hills - Las Vegas