Meetings! They seem to take up a lot of time and sometimes achieve little. Internal meetings, in particular, while important, can be time consuming and involve a lot of people who don’t need to be there, or who don’t participate and shouldn’t be there.

A colleague sent me this the other day and it made me laugh out loud:

If you are in charge of an internal meeting here are the most common meeting derailers, and how to deal with them:


Some people are always late. Don’t wait for them; start the meeting at the designated time, unless they have advised in advance that they have been caught up in another meeting. In that case, advise the other meeting participants that the meeting will be starting late.

The Tangent takers

You have an agenda (you DO have an agenda, don’t you). Some people like to derail a meeting by going off on a tangent and take you down a path you don’t wish to take. As soon as you see this happening, bring the meeting back to the agenda and tell the group that if time that item will be dealt with at the end. If no time, either take it up in private or at another time.

The strong silent types

This is the person who sits in the meeting and says nothing. Oftentimes this person does actually have something to say, but waits until the meeting is over and says it to everyone else except you. Draw them out by asking for their opinion on the various agenda items. Or give them a heads up before the meeting that you would like their input on a particular item.

The over-talkers

Conversely, the over-talker likes to have something to say about every item on the agenda, even if they know nothing about it. Over-talkers need to be told politely that it is time to move on to the next item, or ask someone else for their views. Over-talkers are often interrupters as well. Be conscious of this, as it is not only rude, it will prevent others from speaking up if they are only going to be interrupted.

Passive aggressive pariahs

There is not enough time to talk about passive aggressive people in this blog post. They’re the ones who will say something like ‘Do you think that’s a good idea?’ with a concerned look on the face. What they are really saying is ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea’. They just don’t want to say it; they want to make you feel unsure about your direction. Best way to deal with this – turn it back on them. ‘Yes I do, but you clearly don’t. Tell me about that’.

Telecommunications twits

You know the type – constantly looking at their phones and responding to texts and emails. Or checking Facebook. Ask everyone to place his or her devices face down on the table, or place them in a bucket at the beginning of the meeting. Seriously – do it!

A productive meeting is a good meeting!