How to Plan a Meeting for All Personality Types
Small (but impactful) ways to accommodate attendees’ unique personalities
“I’m an extroverted introvert.”
“Oh, well, I’m an introvert. But I’m an extrovert on the weekend.”
Probably more than ever, proclaiming your social tendencies (or lack thereof) might be just as much of an identifier as your career or hometown. But as you’ve probably noticed during these exchanges, few people describe themselves as solely an introvert or extrovert. More often, we say we are some variation of each to avoid others stereotyping us—and smartly so. But there are more than just two terms that describe the way a person interacts with the world. In fact, there are 16.
Enter the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, a personality sorter tapped by businesses to determine employee preferences. The test associates users with eight characteristics: extroversion (E) or introversion (I), sensing (S) or intuitive (N), feeling (F) or thinking (T), and judging (J) or perceiving (P). According to the test’s logic, every person can be categorized into one of 16 combinations of those characteristics.
Of course, there’s no way to plan a meeting that pleases all 16 personality types. But there are small, impactful things you can do to help attendees feel welcome, empowered and successful.
The profile: Quiet, serious and dependable, ISTJs are matter-of-fact, approach situations realistically and responsibly, and find pleasure in order and organization.
For your meeting: OK, planning an extra-organized event here should be self-explanatory and would probably be appreciated by the 15 other personality types equally. But ISTJ individuals are truly going to pay attention to detail, be it the personalized nametags you place at their dinner seats, the expedited digital check-in or the on-time agenda.
The profile: Quiet but friendly and highly conscientious, ISFJs are also committed and loyal, making them quick (and willing) to follow directions.
For your meeting: As it’s something a hyperorganized ISTJ would appreciate as well, be sure to have an explicit, clear agenda prepared ahead of time—preferably emailed. As an Observer article noted, a workplace that doesn’t outline specific instructions is likely to put ISFJs in a funk.
The profile: These individuals continuously seek meaning in relationships, ideas and material possessions. They want to understand what motivates people and to serve the common good. Similar to ISFJs and ISTJs, INFJ folks are incredibly organized.
For your meeting: As we’ve highlighted before, thinking deeper than the event basics—whether that’s connecting cuisine to the local community or fostering a sense of volunteerism—is a great way to give your meeting added purpose. Donate raffle proceeds to a local charity or organize a team-building community service event to appease do-gooder INFJs—just make sure you have an agenda for it!
The profile: With original minds and a drive for seeing a plan they’ve enacted come together, INTJs have a passion for organizing jobs and carrying them through. They are fiercely independent––and they’re probably where all the associations with introverts stemmed from in the first place.
For your meeting: It’s not that INTJ folks are recluses; they just need time to unwind and map out their master plan. For a productive Ideate or Decide meeting, ensure that attendees have refuge from loud, interactive working areas so they can thrive.
The profile: Quiet observers and highly analytical, they sift through large amounts of information in their brains before coming to a conclusion, making them decidedly practical. In doing so, they’re also particularly tolerant and flexible.
For your meeting: For meetings where attendees must ingest a large amount of information (something common for an Ideate or Decide meeting), an ISTP individual will appreciate a planner who makes an effort to outline all of the information and gives them ample time to reach a decision. Last-minute requests will probably make them cringe.
The profile: Although quiet and sensitive, ISFPs enjoy having their own space to work and are extremely self-motivated.
For your meeting: Simply put, nix the micromanaging. ISFP folks err on the sensitive side, so they won’t appreciate a demanding partner or planner hovering over their shoulders as they work.
The profile: Curious, poetic and naturally inventive, INFP individuals are teeming with ideas and creativity.
For your meeting: Because INFP folks love exploring new ideas, don’t be afraid to stock your meeting with buzzy new gizmos and gadgets—especially for an interactive Celebrate or Network event.
The profile: Quiet and contained, INTPs are typically more interested in analyzing ideas themselves rather than discussing them with others.
For your meeting: It’s OK to have interactive brainstorm sessions, but consider allowing ample time before those sessions for attendees to digest information themselves. Although extroverted individuals will probably be counting the seconds until they can discuss the subject matter, INTP attendees will have already formed an opinion—in exactly the fashion they prefer.
The profile: Spontaneous, in-the-moment and highly active, ESTP people don’t want to discuss theories—they want immediate results.
For your meeting: Monotony and predictability are surefire ways to put an ESTP to sleep. While sticking to an agenda is helpful in satisfying introverted-leaning folks, always have an element of surprise handy—whether that be a last-minute performance at a Celebrate event or a break from mundane lectures in the form of a nature walk.
The profile: ESFP folks enjoy working with others to reach a common goal, making them particularly reliable teammates and co-workers.
For your meeting: This one’s easy. An ESFP attendee will dislike a meeting with no interaction—which is a rarity in the event space. If you have a hefty amount of information to deliver during the event, be sure to provide Q&A sessions for attendees to partake in so ESFPs will feel they’re part of the solution.
The profile: Although ENFP individuals seek affirmation from others, they are prepared to deliver equal support to others. They’re particularly warm and enthusiastic.
For your meeting: Don’t be afraid to lay on the compliments, and encourage others to do the same. What’s that saying? “You attract more bees with honey than vinegar,” right?
The profile: Quick, stimulating and outspoken, ENTP attendees will be the first to voice their opinions when given the chance.
For your meeting: Naturally, allow these types to speak. Silencing them and solely projecting information will make them feel frustrated and futile.
The profile: ESTJ folks have a get-things-done mentality, focusing first on results. The methods for reaching those results are flexible.
For your meeting: When attempting to reach a conclusion in a Decide meeting, always allow for alternative methods of resolution—an inventive ESTJ might surprise you and find an even better method than the one you have prepared!
The profile: Similar to ENFP attendees, an ESFJ individual wants to be appreciated and noticed. An isolating, impersonal work environment is likely to cause stress.
For your meeting: Whenever possible, try to add personal touches to your meeting. Take the time to know (and memorize) your attendees’ names. You might even consider doing your homework beforehand for talking points with particular individuals.
The profile: Catalysts for individual and group growth, ENFJ individuals are natural leaders. They want to fulfill their own potential while fulfilling the potential of others.
For your meeting: Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. Especially during a meeting where a full day’s worth of information needs to be presented, try to save room for interactive discussion and brainstorming periods.
The profile: Decisive and poised to lead, ENTJ individuals are quick to point out illogical or inefficient procedures and methods.
For your meeting: Absolute perfection is required … no pressure or anything! In all seriousness, as ENTJ attendees will probably see their own path toward forming a decision as the best, don’t force a group to approach an issue in the same way. You might find that naturally intelligent and charismatic ENTJs will start to lead the way with their own method right off the bat.
The Common Thread...
Despite their differences, all 16 personalities will appreciate an attention to detail. Whether that's with increased creativity, order or a full-fledged agenda, be sure to put in the time and effort toward planning your event long beforehand.