1055_6Have you ever felt the frustration of people joining your meeting late and interrupting your presentation?  What about getting distracted by the tapping of a keyboard from someone multi tasking on a conference call?

Whether online, over the phone or face-to-face, keeping people engaged and productive during a meeting is not an easy task. Even the best planned meetings can be a total loss if the attendees are not given an agenda or know the objective of the meeting prior and during the meeting. 

At PGi, we have identified a list of ‘unique’ personalities we often encounter in meetings and some tips to helping you get the best out of your time and the people attending.



1. The Multitasker: Admit it, all of us are guilty of multitasking during a meeting. In fact, a recent survey conducted by PGi in June 2010 concluded that more than 50 percent of professionals in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia multi task during conference calls or web meetings.

Explaining ground rules and expectations at the beginning of a meeting is a great way to ensure you are setting the right tone for the meeting.

  • All mobile phones should be switched off when seated at the conference table. Not only is this going to help with keeping everyone focused with the task at hand, but mobile signals cause interference with many speaker phones commonly used in corporate conference rooms.
  • Involve the Multitasker in your presentation. This works great when you are having a virtual meeting. Ask the Multitasker to share their desktop so they can demo an application or other relevant materials, which keeps them out of their inbox, chat, or browsing the web.

2. The Mobile Meeter: This personality thinks nothing of conducting or attending meetings in the airport lounge or in a restaurant. What’s worse, some of them take their conference calls from the restroom and forget to mute!

The Mobile Meeter needs to have conference details handy in an Outlook Calendar so they can quick-dial into a meeting and have a clear understanding of how to self-mute background noise.

  • For Mobile Meeter out there… invest in a noise-canceling headset so background noise doesn’t get in the way of your message. This headset will make it seem that you are in a closed-door conference room when actually, you are taking the call while driving with the windows down.
  • Remind your attendees at the beginning of every meeting how to mute their line, and ask that they do when they are not speaking. If you find this doesn’t fix the situation, you can always mute-all as the meeting owner and ask participants to “un-mute” themselves as needed.



3. The Disrupter: Changing the topic or taking people down a side street, the Disrupter can blow up an agenda and make other meeting participants irritable and cranky.

You will know the Disrupter as they often end a sentence with “that said, let me digress to another topic”. So what’s the trick?

  • Let the Disrupter know about a specific part of the conference that they know something about. Then you can ask them for the opinion, input, thoughts and ideas.
  • No matter how many times the Disrupter interferes; always acknowledge their contribution – and most importantly, the opportunity for questions at a LATER stage.



4. The Overbooked: Doesn't know how to say no to a meeting invite so they attend them all. And the best part is, they are always late! The Overbooked generally greets team gatherings with "Sorry, I had a meeting that ran late ... ". Here are some useful tips:

  • The fact that the Overbooked soul still makes time to attend your meeting even if they have 10 others to attend to, means that they are willing to participate and share their thoughts – so do acknowledge that!
  • If you know that in the next 15 minutes, your Overbooked attendee needs to rush off, offer to be a Timekeeper and inform the rest of the group accordingly.



5. The Interrupter: When a good idea comes to mind, the Interrupter can't wait to present and share it with the group. And does it ... right at that moment! The trick to this is simple:
Don’t be afraid to create ground rules to control contributions from your attendees. Simply saying ‘no interruptions while others are giving their update’ will suffice. If the Interrupter forgets the rule and steps in anyway, you can say “Hold that thought for a moment, let’s hear the rest of what Linda has to say”.


6. The Socialiser: Outgoing and charismatic, the Socialiser is a skillful and enthusiastic communicator. They are always prompt, always interested in where you live, how many children you have and what you had for lunch.
Maintaining personal boundaries is a problem for Socialiser though – so what do you do?
When the conversation goes off on a tangent, let the Socialiser know that it can be taken offline, at a different time. Now, let’s move on with the meeting!


7. The Maestro: A complete professional, never starts a meeting without establishing a clear agenda. At the end of a meeting clearly recaps the discussion, outlines next steps and identifies action items. 
Even when the Maestro isn’t running a meeting, their organizational command shines through.
The Maestro’s smooth skills in communicating and dealing with questions can often help manage other personalities like the Disrupter, Interrupter or even, the Socialiser, so offer the Maestro to be the chairperson.



8. The Timekeeper: Is not afraid to say “We’ve used up half of our meeting time and have only covered one item. Can we move on and cover the other nine?”

No matter what is happening in a meeting, the Timekeeper is aware that the meeting has a time limit and tries to motivate the team to complete the meeting at the predicted close.
If you know that one of your meeting attendees has the Timekeeper personality traits, allow them to take on the responsibility of keeping track of the agenda and let the group know how much time remains for discussion. 


9. The Snacker: Kudos to the person who will work through lunch, but mind your table manners, please!
People eat all the time during web or conference calls. For those who really need to eat, learning about mute features is a requirement. As the host, encourage your attendees to mute their line when they are not speaking or presenting.


10. The Social Networker: In this day and age, many professionals are Facebooking and Tweeting live from a meeting. You know who they are but what do you say to them?
If you know that one of your attendees is updating her status when other members of the team are sharing their thoughts, you may want to pass the presenter control to the Social Networker and encourage them to voice their thoughts and ideas instead.


By Joanne Rigby, Marketing Director, Asia Pacific, PGi