Love them or hate them, obsessively organise them or desperately avoid them, meetings are a massive part of working culture. From a quick team catch-up to a full blown brainstorm to the nervousness of a management meeting or client review, taking a group of people into a room often results in a series of personalities rising to the surface. How many of these have you encountered? (Clue: if you haven’t met one, you quite possibly are one!) And how do you use them to your advantage to make the most of the time?
The creative one and how to handle them
Every office has at least one of these people; the bold thinkers who will use their own personal tastes and something they read on The Drum that morning as the main barometer they’ll need to determine the value of an idea. They spend their lives applying creative thinking to briefs, so before bringing them into a meeting, give them a brief for it. This will help to keep a handle on what they might bring to the table and will give them a structure to stick to, as well as bringing their very strongest and most developed ideas to the table.
The diligent one and how to get the most out of them
A gift to any meeting, this individual will produce the most perfect minutes but will be nervous about adding anything else. Clinging to their efficiency and ability to follow rules, the idea of ‘outside the box’ strikes fear into their heart. Between them and the creative one is the perfect balance, so employ reverse tactics. Latch on to their ideas and tease them out, offering praise to make them feel valued and comfortable. Plus, as diligent as they are they will most likely have the best notes from the last meeting too, so go to them first for a quick recap.
The one who wants to be in charge and how to placate them
For some people, a team meeting is often an opportunity to prove themselves and showcase their leadership capabilities…which can mean they accidentally end up treading on the actual meeting leader’s toes. This enthusiasm is obviously an asset, and channelled properly they can become a valuable right hand. Setting a clear agenda in advance of the meeting (or asking them to set it) will help keep everything on track while giving this person clear opportunities to prove their leadership capabilities.
The naysayer and how to use them
For creative free thinkers it can be frustrating to have an individual such as this in a room, but their ability to put client or customer best interests first can be an invaluable tool when it comes to determining ROI. They can be the perfect sounding board for honing a creative out-of-the-box idea into something that is actually both possible and likely to resonate well with the audience. They will often have an innate, perhaps scary understanding of what the client or customer likes or doesn’t like and how they behave, so use this knowledge to your advantage (and reign in the creative’s outlandish suggestions at the same time).
The boss and how to impress them
Often a team meeting is the best opportunity for the boss to get an overview of how a project is progressing, but also it’s an opportunity for them to see how the whole team is working together. Make sure you add a brief status update (utilising the diligent one’s excellent notes) and an objective of the meeting to the start of the meeting agenda; it will help focus the whole team but also give context to the rest of the discussion, while a recap of that and the objective at the end will help show your focus and understanding. Make sure the meeting agenda itself is shared well in advance, giving each member of the team a clear role to play within it, showcasing their very best individual traits and talents while, should their imaginations run away with them, helping steer back any discussion to a constructive track.
One other role you should appoint at the start of the meeting is a timekeeper, as this will not only help keep the rest of the meeting on track but will also show your boss that you respect the time they’ve set aside to attend and will not take up any more of it than you need to. Share a condensed version of the minutes/key actions with them after the meeting, for them to read and absorb quickly, while making yourself available to answer any follow-up questions they may have.
Are there any great pieces of advice you’d give to help manage these personalities? Share them in the comments or on Twitter! Or, for more useful tips to make meetings run more smoothly, whoever is in them, try reading 13 tips for better meetings.