Adam Bertram

Guest Blog: Introverts at Conferences

Today I nearly watched someone die because the awkward feeling of standing next to a group of people at a crosswalk was too much. It was during the early morning walk to the Microsoft Ignite conference. Myself and a group of other attendees were waiting for the all-clear to cross a highway when I saw someone join our group briefly. This guy quickly eyed our group nervously and then immediately begin to cross the road with a definite degree of determination. As he crossed the four-lane highway, I couldn’t help but think about his choice to sprint across a busy road risking his life rather than waiting a couple of minutes. Was it because he was, in fact, too uncomfortable to stand amongst strangers or was he simply in a hurry to get to an early morning session? The way he was acting led me to believe he simply didn’t want to feel awkward standing around with a bunch of strangers for just a few minutes in silence. Are you the introverted daredevil in this story? If so, read on. As an introvert myself, I struggle with many of the same anxiety-provoking situations that all introverts sometimes do; schmoozing, awkward silence, direct eye contact, etc. but it’s something I’ve managed to overcome to a degree. Tech conferences mainly used to be one of the most anxiety-fueled experiences I dealt with especially when I would attend by myself. Familiar coworkers were my crutch. They were my safe-place amongst the crowd of strangers that I would stick to like glue the entire time. But, it’s not like this anymore. Tech conferences typically consist of three main components:

• Conference sessions (large keynote and smaller breakout sessions)
• Shared meals in large halls
• After-parties in the evenings

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