The 5 different types of silent people in a meeting

It has long been established that an effective meeting is composed of engaged participants… but it might not be the case all the time. We should learn to appreciate the silent ones – who are observing, listening and taking it all in.

The reserved

The ‘reserved’ ones tend to always hold back what they need to say. They are either are too shy or the vocal people have already voiced out their ideas – and they feel like they have nothing more to add.

Instead of trying hard to squeeze them dry for words, shift the topic in another direction or just don’t let the conversation drag on for too long. Make the talk be comfortable and interesting and you might just see them raise their hands from time to time.

quiet employees

© estradaanton / Adobe Stock

The unprepared

Often going into hiding, ‘unprepared’ attendees think they go unnoticed – but they don’t! To be honest, nobody is 100% prepared all the time.

Being the good facilitator that you are, learn how to cut them some slack. If these silent chaps have been great contributors on previous occasions and they are just a bit tight-lipped every now and then, leave them alone for the time being. Let them be listeners – they can use what they learn to be prepared next time.

The confused

Sometimes, when a meeting veers off course or the conversation is moving too fast, attendees can get to feeling a little bemused. To lighten the mood, create some time for thinking – this will allow the facilitators to re-organise the topic structure, while the confused can catch up. In fact, after a short break everybody should be back on the same page and ready to move on to the next agenda.

The pushover

It may not be their intention but talkative people have the tendency to overpower the quieter ones.

Since this is something that cannot be entirely controlled, you should try to avoid this situation. By opening your eyes and consciously seeking out the meeker ones, they will probably be eager to share their ideas. Treat them like precious gems across the mire of the usual faces – you might be surprised to hear what they have to contribute to the conversation.

The observer

There are those who like nothing more than to watch everything and everyone. You might not know this but these individuals pay MORE attention to EVERYTHING than anyone else.

Be creative and learn to deal with ‘observers’. Keep the meeting relaxed and natural for everyone. Make the effort to devote some space, time and attention to them so they can share their observations.

Next time you hold an important meeting, don’t overlook the silent few – they are often seen and not heard! Our training rooms in London are something worth shouting about, offering the perfect environment for professional and productive meetings… for everyone. Call 0800 073 0499 for further information.

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