Extroverts get ahead. That’s what we learn when we see gregarious gamers garner millions of views on YouTube, when we see charismatic politicians win voters over with well-delivered speeches, and when we see CEOs make a lecture hall full of conference attendees roar with applause. At work, the loudest voices in the meeting grab the attention, and those who are eager to introduce themselves to strangers in social situations expand their networking opportunities.
But the shift to hybrid work and video is giving introverts new opportunities to get ahead in ways that play to their strengths. It may seem counterintuitive, but being in front of a camera can be a superpower for the quiet thinkers at work. In this article, we’ll define how introverts work best, how they can use both live and recorded video to advance at work, and the benefits of having introverts use video for their managers and extrovert colleagues.
How do introverts behave at work?
In her seminal book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain describes introverts broadly as those who require less stimulation than those on the extrovert end of the spectrum. “They like to focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration…They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation,” she writes in the book. Cain points to studies showing that a surprisingly high number of Americans are introverts—between one-third and one-half. (In a survey we conducted in July 2023 on meeting attitudes, we also found that 40% of American workers consider themselves to be “lurkers” in meetings, preferring to gather info and remain silent.)
Today’s shift to working a few days from home may feel like a gift to many introverts who crave focus time, silence, and limited social interaction. They are able to work without the distraction of chatty colleagues. They can listen even more inconspicuously on video calls with their cameras turned off. Outgoing personalities don’t automatically give extroverts an edge when fewer people see each other on a regular basis. And introverts can take time to write documentation instead of engaging in on-the-spot conversations that interrupt their flow.
But hybrid work has drawbacks introverts should be aware of. Flying under the radar poses a challenge to career advancement when everyone works in the office, but working at a hybrid or distributed workplace compounds the need to be seen and heard. Younger workers whose careers got started during the pandemic haven’t had much time to build relationships with allies and mentors who can help them find their way. The good news is that video can help relieve some of these problems—even for those who don’t crave being the center of attention.
How introverts can use video to their advantage
The qualities that make introverts quiet in meetings have power that can be harnessed on live and recorded video. Here’s how introverts can use video technology to feel empowered and understood:
Share your ideas visually. Instead of relying on charisma and personality to convey enthusiasm, mmhmm helps speakers show their thoughts without speaking. That can mean drawing or creating text blocks that add to the conversation silently, or sharing GIFs or Big Hands gestural reactions to express emotion. As Gordon Plant, Vice President of Product at BaseKit, told us in an interview, “The superpower mmhmm gives me is going with the flow. It's answering questions on the fly. I can show you an answer, not tell you an answer.” mmhmm makes it easy to preload slides with relevant information and keep them handy when joining a meeting, so when people interject with questions, the introvert has that information ready to show in an instant, calming an otherwise stressful situation.
Unleash your creativity. In Quiet, Cain says that “introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.” Introverts can use that time alone to prepare rich, thoughtful presentations. With a recording, introverts who prefer writing over talking can show off their skills with a prepared script instead of trying to improvise. When it comes time to record, there’s no pressure to nail your talk in one take, and no anxiety-inducing audience in front of you. Recording a video gives you time to perfectly articulate your ideas without having to worry about performance.
Make your presence felt at work. As Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen say in Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home, hybrid work may disadvantage anyone who is less visible. “Single parents, workers with elderly family members, disabled employees, and those who simply don’t want to live in proximity to the office risk being overshadowed by those who come in every day,” they say. Sharing recorded video means not having to compete for attention with the loudest people in the room during live meetings. Introverts can share their well-researched, fully-formed ideas without fear of interruption. Videos offer concrete evidence of their creative contributions to a team.
Team up for moral support. Sometimes the easiest way to conquer a fear or appear more assertive is to team up with a friend. With mmhmm, colleagues can join each other on screen even when they’re in separate locations. That way, introverts can forget about the sense of stage fright, drawing out their best ideas in a comfortable conversation with another person.
Benefits for managers and colleagues
Joshua Davies of Knowmium, a consultancy that facilitates learning and development, told us that his virtual workshops can help even quiet and reticent employees talk frankly with managers by combining mmhmm with tools like Otter.ai transcription and Miro whiteboards so that everyone can see the conversations as they happen. “If done well, from a perspective of making everyone feel safe to share, to give themselves permission to fail or to not be perfect, virtual can potentially even nudge out face-to-face,” Davies said.
For distributed companies or those with teams in multiple locations, recorded video introductions can be a great way to “meet” other members of the staff without subjecting everyone to the fatigue of 1:1 virtual coffee breaks.
Outside of the workplace, videos can also be used effectively to introduce yourself to recruiters without having to be overwhelmed meeting people at networking events. A video can offer insight into your personality while showcasing your skills, without having to awkwardly weave your achievements into a live conversation.
Turning the camera on may be intimidating at first, but we think there are benefits to everyone when introverts are seen and heard at work. With mmhmm hybrid video, we want to build a world through video that makes work more accessible and inclusive for even the shyest among us.
Make your videos more engaging with less effort: Our free mmhmm-ready PowerPoint and Keynote templates help put you and your content on the same screen, elegantly. Download the free mmhmm-ready presentation templates.