4 Tips for Reaching Training Introverts

I stumbled upon a great article in this month's Psychology Today magazine that really got me thinking about my training audience. Most of us are primarily introverts or extroverts. If you’re primarily an extrovert you’re outgoing, gregarious, friendly, and talkative - but you tend to bore easily. If you’re primarily an introvert, you’re less outwardly expressive and more likely to process your emotions and thoughts internally. You tend to embrace critical-thinking and you do more listening than talking - but your introspective ways may leave you feeling awkward in social or group settings.

As a classroom trainer, working with introverts and extroverts is a little easier because you can observe the audience and adjust your delivery to suit their dynamics – using a little less talk here and a little more action there. But with online training, how do you design in a way that really appeals to and engages the elusive introverts in your audience?

Here’s the good news: because introverts are more solitary, the self-guided nature of online training is actually a good fit for them. But the flip side of the coin is that your training design needs to honor their focus on relevancy. Introverts respond to substance more than style so don’t try to disguise “fluffy” training with a slick veneer of visual panache; you’re introverts will see right through it! Instead, you need to use online training as a way to establish your credibility by smartly communicating relevancy and incorporating design features that show respect for the introvert's preference for independent learning.

Here are a few tips to consider for meeting these design goals:

  1. When you’re designing longer training modules, keep the number of between lesson “pulse-check” questions to a minimum. Introverts withdrawal when they feel as though they’re being interrogated.
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  2. Introverts disdain superficiality. They’re looking for meaningful learning experiences. Avoid using scenarios that are too obvious or stereotypical. Instead, keep scenarios realistic, succinct (get to the point!), and complex to up the engagement.
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  3. Introverts like to think first and talk later, so instead of embedding a quiz or a feedback survey at the end of a module, send your trainees a link to the quiz or survey a day or two after they take the module. This gives introverts more time to think about the lessons and how they apply on the job.
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  4. Introverts prefer to write down their ideas. Ask post-training questions that prompt the kind of critical-thinking introverts embrace. Rather than ask, "How effective were the solutions provided in the training module?" try wording the question a little more provocatively, like: “How does your solution to the scenario differ from the recommended solution provided in the training?” Encourage trainees to email you with their thoughts and ideas and strike up a correspondence to learn more about the dynamics of your audience.
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Do you have more tips & ideas for honoring the needs of introverts? What do you do to make online training more appealing to training extroverts? Send your ideas our way and leave us a comment.


Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training solutions. When her training skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own design muscles. Contact Trina at trina@rimmer.net.

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