5 people that will mess up your meeting – and how to deal with them

You’ve been planning for your meeting all week when suddenly it all goes wrong. Here’s how to handle those people that can mess up your best laid plans

From an angry staff member to latecomers, we look at the 5 people that can ruin your meeting and how to get it back on track.

1. The venter
Meetings can often be seen as a platform to air grievances and it can be hard to bring an angry staff member who’s on a roll back under control.&M 10 Mar 2

If faced with this situation, the best advice is to remain calm. Let them air their initial grievance and then say you’ll be willing to discuss it one-to-one after the meeting.

If they start to take over the meeting, ask them kindly to step out of the meeting room with you. Once they’ve lost their audience, they may well calm down.

2. The ramblers
Even the best planned meetings can go over time for a variety of reasons. Often it’s because the meeting has gone off on a tangent, other times it might be because one of the attendees has gone off on a rant.

The best way to tackle this is to prevent it. Have a clear focus and structure for your meeting. If it starts to go off on a tangent, make a note of the subject and agree to come back to it at a later date, then return to the focus of the meeting.

The same goes for ramblers – if someone is taking over, at a discreet moment speak up and take back control. Tell them that you’ll have a one to one meeting on the issue and then quickly ask someone else in the meeting a question relevant to the agreed topic.

3. The gossip
Meetings can be a great way to catch up not just on work matters but social goings-on. It’s important that employees feel free to talk, even if it is gossip but after the first few minutes the topic should turn to work matters.

dv518019If not, tap the table or a glass to get everyone’s attention. If you feel some of the gossip is unsuitable for the workplace, let them know.

Once you’ve got their attention, jump straight into the crux of the meeting to keep their focus. Ask the gossipers work-related questions to get their minds back on the task at hand.

After the meeting, have a quick word with the gossipers and let them know that you expect a bit more focus next time.

4. The no-show
You might have a perfectly planned meeting but if a key speaker or employee can’t make it then your house of cards could collapse.

The best way to handle this is to prevent it. If you’ve got someone giving a presentation, make sure they’ve briefed you before-hand and sent over any slides so if the worst comes to the worst you can take over.

If you’re not able to take over, have a back-up topic so you can still use the time productively or have an alternative time slot booked for the next day.

5. The late comers
Depending on how late they are, the best option is to not let them in. If they’re just a minute or so, that’s fine as you’ll still be settling in.

However, if they’re half an hour late it might be pointless for them to attend. They could also upset the flow of the meeting and take up valuable time having to go over what’s already been discussed.

Lock the door and let everyone know the rules beforehand – if you’re late you’re not getting in. If you’re holding the meeting to pass along some important information, make sure someone takes notes that can be passed on to the latecomer and make sure they are briefed after.

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

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