Meeting Personas: Helping You Avoid 'Death by Meeting'
Meetings that are ineffectively run are among life's most tedious experiences. You may end up with nothing more than a headache, a page full of cartoon doodles and two hours gone from your limited lifespan.
The good news is that you can redirect meetings into the realm of productivity by arming yourself to take on different "meeting personas." Think about your last workplace meeting and see if you can identify co-workers that have any of these seven classic personas:
- The Bully. The bully comes into a meeting with an agenda and a point of view, and he can be hostile or intimidating as he tries to get his way.
- The Know-It-All. This person is an instant expert on every topic. She uses her "I'm smarter than you" attitude to take control of the meeting.
- The Yakker. The yakker loves to hear himself talk. He often uses a lot of technical or business jargon and rambles on without reaching a point.
- The Clown. This person gets attention by making jokes or sarcastic remarks. Some levity is usually good, but sometimes the jokes distract or undercut the presenter.
- The Avoider. The Avoider doesn't take a position on the issues. Instead, she directs questions to other people and keeps the conversation constantly circling.
- The Multi-tasker. The multi-tasker is doing work, checking e-mail or performing other tasks that aren't related to the meeting. He may constantly ask people to repeat themselves because he isn't paying attention.
- The Bolter. The Bolter is ready to leave before the meeting ever gets started. She usually doesn't say anything because she just wants to get out quickly.
Once you've pinpointed your personas, you can use different strategies to either engage them or redirect them. For example, speak to a Bully by name and ask what purpose his rants or remarks have in the context of the agenda. Remind the Know-It-All to listen to other points of view without telling her that she's wrong.
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You can redirect the Yakker by reminding him that other people need to have time to give their input. For example, you can look at the Bolter and ask an open-ended question, or you can ask the Multi-tasker a question to keep him focused on the meeting. Gently press an Avoider when she tries to deflect your questions. As for the Clown, talk to him outside of the meeting and tell him—diplomatically, of course—to grow up.
Shake up your meetings by using collaboration software, and let others tune in with mobile devices from any location. Most importantly, prepare an agenda so that you can focus on keeping the troops under control.
Edited by Alisen Downey