Thursday, July 31, 2014

Conference Tips for a Shy Introvert by Dora Hiers

Dora Hiers
Last week I attended my first Romance Writers of America national conference. For you extroverts this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for a shy introvert like me? Epic proportions. For those of you on the fence about attending ACFW, maybe my experience will help you decide.

Did you know that shyness and introversion are not the same?

Shyness is a “feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness” around unfamiliar people especially in new situations, largely due to fear. Most of the time, a shy individual will avoid social situations.

Where does shyness originate? Some evidence suggests that shyness is genetic. It can also originate from a person’s environment or personal experiences. Perhaps mine resulted from being burned as a toddler and enduring countless pointed fingers and stares. Whatever the reason, I’m in my fifties now and fear still drenches my palms and tension knots my tummy during social events, so I don’t think it’s going away.

Introverts prefer to be by themselves, and “are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings.” Where extroverts thrive on energy from a crowd, introverts usually feel drained after interacting in a social situation…much like the beautiful hummingbirds that buzz across the neighborhood backyards, flitting from feeder to feeder.
Hummingbird in garage
  
Occasionally they find their way into our garage. Because they just keep fluttering to the ceiling, they exhaust themselves and sometimes die trying to escape. Just last week, I dragged the ladder out and rescued this little guy. Once outside the confinement of the garage, their energy is renewed. That’s a bit how an introvert feels in the midst of a social setting. Exhausted and drained, wilted until they can escape.

So, how can a shy introvert prepare for conference?

Persist. I refuse to let shyness rule my life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t rear its ugly head. Keep putting yourself in situations where you are forced to deal with that awkward uncomfortable feeling. Don’t give up.

Practice. If you’re planning to pitch, practice every day for two to three weeks until you’re comfortable with the words and flow. Cover possible topics and get to know the person you’re pitching to by following them on Twitter. Doing this gave me tremendous courage.

Book a hotel away from the conference site. By the time I registered, the conference hotels were already booked, or I wouldn’t have discovered this valuable gem of a tip. My hotel was only a couple blocks away from the conference site but the short walk was worth the time to myself. Also, it was less crowded and quiet compared to the constant buzz in the conference hotel.

Pray. You’ve probably all prayed or read the NKJV of 2 Timothy 1:7 before ~ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind, but here’s another translation (TLB) that spoke to this shy introvert:

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.

Isn’t that fabulous?

Tips for a shy introvert to stay calm during a conference:

Remind yourself that the benefits outweigh your fears. Determine what your goals are beforehand so you can remind yourself as often as necessary.

Limit caffeine as much as possible. It’s less upsetting on the tummy.

Schedule down time. Did you see the RWA 2014 schedule? Hundreds of workshops, parties, book signings, publisher spotlights, you name it. Events started at 7:30 AM and lingered well into the night. Not for me. I attended the classes but reserved evenings to recharge.

Riverwalk-San Antonio
Find a chill spot. It’s not impossible, and definitely worth the effort. Before my pitch session, I found this perfect spot to chill and pray. 

What about you? What's your biggest hangup about attending a conference? What suggestions would you share to help someone enjoy their conference experience?

****

Purchase Link
Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten.

Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death. Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart.

When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear, and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future?

Where one journey ends, another begins…

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her on Seriously Write, her personal blogTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

21 comments:

  1. I apply the same rule of thumb we have for our vacation trips. Do NOT try to do everything. I've learned it isn't just the talking (how bout that noise level in the lobby?) but having to concentrate for extended periods and trying to cram every bit of the experience. I do that and I'm exhausted. Give me a nap and permission to not participate in everything and I am a happy conference camper. So good to see you there!

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    1. Amen, Julie! A nap would have been awesome, and I so agree about giving yourself permission not to do everything. That's a MUST!
      It was great to finally meet you in person!! Next time I'm up your way, maybe we can do coffee. :)

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  2. Love this post! Thanks for sharing about shyness and introverts. I thought I was the only one! You explained me so well. No one really understands unless they have been there. If I'm in a crowded room, I enjoy standing in the corner and watching everyone else. I have never attended a conference and couldn't imagine doing so. It is work when I'm in a crowd. I am completely drained and need time to myself to regroup. Sometimes church gets to me because of this. But I have found prayer really does help in these situations. I can now go into Walmart and not feel completely overwhelmed by the number of people. God has placed some really close friends in church so I feel comfortable. I find I do better if it's someplace I've been before and I don't have to find my way around. Thanks for the post! So encouraging and I'll be practicing those tips!

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    1. Oh, Sally, you are so NOT alone! It sure helps to have close friends for a support system, doesn't it? And had I not visited San Antonio with my hubby a few years ago, I would have been anxious about that too! :)

      I'm so glad you found comfort and reassurance in this post, and I hope these suggestions help. Thanks for sharing your struggles, Sally!

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  3. This post is SO for me, Dora! My biggest hangup is definitely all the people. My last ACFW conference, I couldn't believe I had spent all the money and preparation to come to this conference and all I wanted to do was hide in my room!

    I didn't of course. I think the biggest help for me was just to relax and be myself. And to reach out to another person in the room who might look just as uncomfortable as I feel! ;)

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    1. Aww, Heidi, I TOTALLY understand wanting to hide out in your room. When I arrived, the conference hotel was standing room only. I registered and then practically ran back to my hotel. Couldn't face it! But then every workshop I attended someone reached out with a friendly smile and conversation. That really helped me get through the days! I'm thankful for friends like you who reach out to make someone else feel comfortable!!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. It's always encouraging to know I'm not alone in these feelings. And it's not that introverts don't like people--we do. But we need that alone time to recharge after facing the friendly crowds at a big conference. I wonder if we could get the ACFW board to provide a hideaway room for us introverts. :-)

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    1. Oh, Laura, that's a fabulous idea! Love it!

      So true. I love people and especially enjoy meeting up with friends, but I do better in small groups and AFTER I get to know them individually. Thanks for commenting, Laura!

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  5. Good morning, Dora. I'm sorry I missed meeting you in San Antonio. I'm not really sure what I am - probably a mix of the two. I'm great at talking to strangers in impersonal settings (like chatting with the cashier at the supermarket), but put me in a room full of people I could potentially be friends with and I freeze up. I'm awful at reaching out. That's the part that drains me so completely.

    The size of the crowds can be overwhelming. That's one reason I do like staying at the conference hotel. I can run upstairs for 10 minutes of peace if I need the restoration.

    Pitching has never really scared me. Not sure why.

    I'm so glad Julie mentioned meeting you. Your books sound just like what I love to read (and my latest hero is also a U.S. Marshal)

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    1. Aww, thanks, Mary! I wish our paths had crossed too!

      I guess it's a coin toss: stay in the noisy conference hotel and sneak away more frequently or stay a bit farther and not go back and forth as much. :)

      ADORE U.S. Marshal heroes! They're so much fun to write. Super congrats on your recent contract! So happy for you!!

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  6. These are great tips. It's a little hard grabbing that down time if you have responsibilities, as I did, but it really is key to not allowing the conference to be overwhelming. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Piper! Seems like I already know you from your friendship with Julie, but I'm so glad that we finally met in person! I don't know how you maintained your sanity with all your responsibilities, but you managed quite well and looked radiant! Thanks for popping in today. :)

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    2. Hi Piper, great to see you here. I'm used to reading your comments on Seekerville!

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  7. Like Sally, I'm in the corner, watching everyone else. I'm fine for a while if I'm with someone I know, but don't leave me alone to face strangers! I have gotten better over the years, but I'm still intimidated easily. Great post, Dora!

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    1. Thank you, Sandy. Lots of strangers at RWA, but not for long. Everybody was super friendly! How about if I reserve a corner for all of us next year? lol

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  8. Dora, you're such a sweetheart that I can't imagine you having any trouble meeting folks!

    You can also have questions prepared to ask other attendees: tell me about your book (you may not have to say anything after this one!), what classes are you attending, where are you from, etc. After you get started, you can relax and enjoy meeting your new friends.

    Thanks for the great post, Dora!

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    1. Aww, blushing, Angie. Thank you!! Over the years I've learned ways to cover it, but that anxiety is still there.
      Thanks for the topic starters, Angie. I will memorize these for next conference. :)

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  9. Love the post, Dora. There are times at conference I feel like the only introvert in the group.

    I would have loved to attended RWA this year, but wasn't able to make it. I am going to ACFW, so I can try these tips out then.

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    1. Great, Terri! Aww, wish you could have been there too! As another introvert, I'd love for you to come back and share your experiences. :)

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  10. Sorry to be so late getting here, Dora. As you know, I was so disappointed not to get to San Antonio despite trying LOL. I have been to four RWA national conferences, and the introvert in me gets sooo overwhelmed. A year ago, I went to the conference in Atlanta...cross country all by myself. Like you say, persistence is a great
    accomplishment! I hope,you were able to decompress a little and have some fun, too. And so glad you made it safely home. Xo

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    1. It's never too late to comment, Tanya. :)
      I sure wish we could have connected at RWA. Maybe next year in New York? Although I have to confess, NY still sounds a bit intimidating to me but both my hubby and my sister volunteered to go with me, so that will help. :)
      We will meet face-to-face one day, sweet friend!

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