Organising a meeting is not only about scheduling time and resources, but also bringing together a mix of personalities in a single room. A few of them may seem shy or not interested, whereas others may seem over-zealous.
Still, the responsibility for conducting the business properly lies with the Chair. Below are a few tips to help you bring out the potential of all the personalities to their maximum.
To start with the classifications, different personalities present in a meeting can be either; positive, negative or neutral. Still, it depends a lot on the issues under consideration and the opinions of the participants the likelihood that any one participant can display either one or all of the personality traits.
How to identify their personality?
Identifying personalities of participants becomes a little easy once you understand their respective backgrounds and history, relating to a particular issue. Consider someone from a marketing background; they would be keener on ideas that include facts and figures rather than ideas that might seem more creative. It is the responsibility of the Chair to be familiar with everyone's backgrounds, to utilise their expertise in their fields to come to an understanding, instead of letting their passions turn the meeting into a competition.
The Positive personalities
Some people in the meeting room would try to tackle the problem, taking it as a challenge and trying to figure out their own unique solutions. Often, they would be quick with ideas to come up with solutions which might not seem usual. You can call them idea persons. They would be the ones to strike up a conversation, giving others something to think about.
Some of the others present would try to recognise the logic and build on it. You can look at these supporters for logical reasoning. If an idea starts to waver from the topic, a few of the attendees would try to bring it back on track to connect it to the main agenda. In case of conflicting opinions getting intense, some other experienced attendees might want to crack a gentle joke. All these personalities show positive traits.
The Negative personalities
You may notice that there are some participants who aggressively shoot down ideas as soon as they are mentioned. Don't rely on them to find a solution, as they will always be thinking with a closed mind.
There may also be someone who will try to hog the limelight by interrupting others, trying to establish his point or to have the final say. Be stern with them, let them know clearly when they interrupt a speaker!
Sometimes people come to meetings with their own ulterior motives. They might want something or expect to achieve something out of it. They would always try to hijack the proceedings to benefit their own cause, just like the Opposition does in Parliament, trying to blame the Government for everything that goes bad.
The Neutral personalities
In most meetings, most participants want to stay neutral. They have a huge influence on the meeting. These neutral personalities can either be people who are silent and shy; like to crack jokes at everything; habitual chatters who would always be talking to the person next to them; or the worse of worse someone who knows everything about everything!
The seating plan
To make your meeting run effectively without interruptions, you should be ready to deal with all participants by either comparing notes on them beforehand or understanding their personalities quickly as the meeting progresses. If you can set out a seating plan – one that would suit the flow of the meeting. For one, don't let two chatter-heads sit next to each other!
Also, see to it that the Chairperson is clearly visible to all attendees, and vice-versa. A lot of meetings use 'n' shaped tables for this purpose with the Chairperson sitting in the middle. You can also mix together experienced and inexperienced attendees when seating. This helps especially when newcomers are quick witted and you need the experienced people to keep a check on them.
To show more control and seniority, you can experiment using a classic boardroom table where the chair is in the centre and others are seated in descending order of their seniority.
If the meeting doesn't warrant many debates, try seating attendees with conflicting views on the same side. When they can't constantly look at each other, people have a harder time confronting.
The above strategies will get you started in influencing meeting participants in the correct way. Following them would make it a lot easier for you to manage your next meeting.