When organising a meeting, you will need to accommodate different personality types. Some may be shy or not influence meeting participantsinterested, others maybe over-zealous. However, it's the responsibility of the Chair to look after all the different personalities present and conduct the business as necessary. below we characterise these personality types and how to use their participation in meetings to good effect

Ideally, there would be three distinct personality types present in any meeting: Positive, Negative and Neutral. However, depending on the issues under discussion, any participant can portray either one or all three of the personalities.

How can you identify these personalities?

In order to identify the personalities of all meeting participants, you need to understand their background and history, especially when it comes to a particular issue. For example, A person from the marketing team would be more receptive to ideas that are based on reports and facts, than creative ideas which can't be proven. So, you would need to acquaint yourself with the background of participants and use their expertise in their own area to come to an understanding, rather than letting them let their passions turn the meeting into a competing frenzy.

The Positive personalities

There will be people in the room who take problem as a challenge and try to solve them, in their own creative ways. They would think up of solutions that might be different from ordinary, and will be quick with ideas. These are the ideas-men and women, the initiators of a conversation. They will give the others something to talk about.

There might be others who would try to support the logic behind the idea and build on it. These are the supporters. Look to them for logical reasoning. If the ideas are wavering from the initial topic, there maybe others who would like to bring it back to track, connecting it with the agenda. In case, there are conflicting ideas and opinions, there maybe a few experienced personnel, who would like to calm things down with a joke or two if they get intense.

The Negative personalities

A few of the participants may be aggressive and hostile towards others, shooting down ideas as soon as they are mentioned. You can't rely on them for solutions as they have a closed mind towards the problem.

Then there would be a few who would like to grab attention by making a point, often interrupting others when they are making their point. You would need to be a little stern when dealing with them, letting them know that they are interrupting the speaker – that is no way to participate in a meeting!

Some others may have an ulterior motive for attending the meeting, maybe they came in expecting something or they want to achieve something from this meeting. These are the people who would try to hijack the issues for their own cause, much akin to the Opposition party in a Parliament, which would blame the Ruling party for all things bad.

The Neutral personalities

Of all the meeting participants, most are neutral. However, that does not mean that they don't influence the proceedings of a meeting. Depending on their personality, they might either be shy and silent; or the class fool who likes to joke about anything and everything; or the habitual chatter who would inherently strike up a conversation with the person next to him; or worse a person who knows everything about everything.

In order to effectively run any meeting, you would need to keep yourself well informed about all the participants. You should also keep an open ear in the meeting and deal with them as necessary. Devise a seating plan that would be suited best for the flow of the meeting. For example, you would not like to pair up two chatter-heads together!

Make sure that the chairperson is visible to everyone, and everyone is to him. Using the 'n' shaped table is a good idea, with the chairperson sitting in between and the others in front of him. Try mixing up experienced and inexperienced people to seat them together. This would help the newcomers come up with new ideas and the experienced to keep a check on them.

If you want to show control and seniority in a meeting, you should use a classic boardroom table with the chair in centre and people in descending order of seniority sitting away from it.

If you don't want a debate to arise in the meeting, you should try seating people with conflicting view-points on the same side of the table. If they can't look at each other constantly, they’ll have a hard time confronting each other.

These are just a few basic strategies that would help you influence the meeting participants. Follow them, and you should not have a torrid time when you next manage a meeting.

Also read Running effective meetings: How it works? and Tips and Advice to Be a Charismatic Public Speaker.


If you would like help getting your meeting organised call us on 0207 278 2211 or send an email using This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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