Meetings are necessary activities we all participate in as they serve as a means for discussing important details with colleagues, receiving feedback on ideas and getting updates on major goals you or your organisation has set as a target among other benefits.
But I am confident we all have experienced that feeling where we think we could have used our time on more important things than be in a certain meeting. From wet blankets who shoot down every suggestion to colleagues to hog-up the conversation with their own ‘dissertation’ of what the issue being discussed is or should be. These meeting killers are the persons with personalities that make having an effective meeting seem like a test run to launch a spaceship into orbit. In some cases, these meeting killers are key members of the team and cannot be excluded from the meetings.
Here are the meeting killers and how you can work better with them;
1. The Wet Blanket – They don’t see any possibility in any of your suggestions and will quickly show you how and why they cannot work. What you can do with such a personality is to seek the opinions of this fellow before the meeting. Once you are in the meeting, you can also set a ground rule that requires anyone who objects to a suggestion to offer a new suggestion. In the rear instance you are overtly confronted about the feasibility of your ideas (e.g. while you are making a slide presentation), you simply need to let the naysayer know you understand his reservation but you’d like to finish your submission then you can discuss his points if you have time left. As the team leader, you can also set aside some time during the meeting to discuss the objections, after which you would ask your team to shift focus on taking a decision.
2. The Silent Plotter – They are usually the quiet ones who sit in the back of the meeting but are quick to undermine your authority, competence and skill to lead the team behind your back. If you have identified this person in your team or organisation, get their feedback before the meeting.
3. The Rambler – This person just keeps going on and on about a point or simply mixes several points. He doesn’t let other people contribute and usually wants to speak always. To prevent the rambler from hogging up the meeting and also to prevent others from cutting him in mid sentence, I suggest you put an unusual object in the middle of the table (like a flower, a bar of chocolate or a doll). Anyone who picks up the item signals to the speaker that they wish to make a contribution without cutting others as they speak.
Meetings are supposed to a time to creatively solve problems and chart innovative paths for a team or organisation. They are not to become an avenue for wasting time or to leave team members demoralised.
You can get more from your meetings by following the tips below;
- Set a clear agenda.
- Impose a ‘no devices’ rule or schedule periodic tech breaks for email, texts and phone calls.
- Redirect people back to the agenda when they ramble or digress.
- Draw out quiet people by asking them in advance for a specific contribution.
- Do a ’round robin,’ when appropriate, to allow everyone to contribute.
- Ask early for objections to keep them from derailing discussions later.
- Limit the length of slide presentations.
- Interrupt people who talk too long or talk to each other.
- Set an ending time for the meeting and stick to it.