Meeting Management

Meeting personalities: Their impact on meetings, and ways to handle them

Each meeting is a unique blend of personalities so before organising your meetings, it is important to consider some of the most common meeting personalities, and the ways you can manage them in meetings.

Ioana Bota
birds on string to explain different meeting personalities

Why are meeting personalities important?

Meetings are the venue where individuals gather to reach a common goal. Having a mix of different personalities in a meeting helps diversify discussions and can leverage dissent in a positive way. However, when these different personalities clash, they can turn meetings into counterproductive, and even useless, forums of disagreement. 

While it is crucial to know how to choose your meeting participants , it is also important to understand that no meeting is the same. Each meeting will be a unique blend of personalities and the final product will be distinct from the rest. Each individual also has their own agenda when attending meetings, and they have significant influence over the meeting outcome. For this reason, before organising your meetings, it is important to consider some of the most common meeting personalities, and the ways you can manage them in meetings. 

Much like a good coach will be aware of the strengths and nuances of the members of their sports team, you too should be aware of the different characters in your meetings. This way, even if discussions get heated or the meeting slips off track, you can step in and steer your meetings back to efficiency and productivity.

This article explores some of the most prevalent meeting personalities, and gives you tips on how to manage them so that your meetings stay on track.


What are the different types of meeting personality and how can you manage them?

The Techy 

Modern meeting rooms are filled with gadgets, many of which assist us and are critical to meeting success. The same technology can also serve as a distraction in meetings, and this erodes engagement and, ultimately, can reduce the efficiency of your meetings. 

'The Techy' is someone who will come to meetings with various devices in hand, and will not start their presentations until it's on a wide-screen and working properly, regardless of how long they delay the meeting when technology fails them - as it so often does. This meeting personality will also return to multitasking on various devices when they are no longer presenting, checking emails, WhatsApp messages, and Slack notifications.

This can be especially disruptive in meetings, and it’s important to call it out, while offering a few helpful solutions. You can help manage this personality by: 

  • Limiting the use of individual laptops and phones during in-person meetings, 
  • Regularly checking in with 'The Techies' to ensure they are engaged, and  
  • Operating a 'camera on' policy for virtual and hybrid meetings


The Food Hoover 

The Food Hoover's favorite corner of the meeting room is the one where the catering is placed. These participants are interested in the meeting as long as the food is readily available. While this might not be a bad thing per se, they often get distracted by their attempts to 'hide' the food, or apologise because of the noise their 'crunching' makes at inopportune moments.  

There is not much you can do to ease a hungry participant's stomach, but you can plan short breaks in the meeting's agenda for your attendees to snack.


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The Fidgeter 

There is no meeting short enough for The Fidgeter. This meeting personality does not have much patience, and they will try to find ways to multitask, distracting themselves from listening. They might bring their laptops to meetings, or check their mobile phone constantly, in-between intermittently foot tapping or scribbling in notepads.  

The best way to deal with a Fidgeter is to try to keep your meetings short and highly focused on the topics of the meeting agenda . This way, they will not have the time to get distracted.


The Remote Meeting Participant

With the recent increase in the new ways of working, including remote and hybrid meetings, this has become a pervasive meeting personality. Remote Meeting Participants can be equally engaged and disengaged depending on the quality of the meeting, its agenda, and its leadership. One of the most frustrating aspects for meeting leads and participants who are physically present at meetings, is that sometimes a remote meeting personality might opt to multitask by keeping their camera and comms off, or keep them on during the worst moments when background noises are too loud.

When it comes to the remote meeting personality, it's important to have a qualitative meeting and involve them as much as possible from the beginning in a similar way in which you would involve other meeting participants, who are physically in the room.


The Late Meeting Participant

Late-comers are one of the most disturbing meeting personalities because they interrupt the flow of your meetings, and require the Meeting Lead to repeat what was discussed up until the moment that they joined. Often, late-comers are quick to excuse themselves for being late, and fall into the same pattern in multiple meetings that you have with them.

Setting clear ground rules for your meetings is a good way to nudge the Late Meeting Participants to take your meeting seriously, and arrive on time. If this situation persists, however, it is also useful to address it directly with all participants, in a general manner, to avoid it from happening in future meetings.


A mix of different personalities in a meeting helps diversify discussions and can leverage dissent in a positive way.

The Off-Topic Meeting Personality

The Off-Topic Meeting Personality is often full of energy and new ideas. In their enthusiasm to share their knowledge, they will try to shift the course of the discussion more often than you, or other participants, want to, and this can easily derail an entire meeting and make participants feel frustrated for losing their time. This type of participant is recognisable by their catch phrase '...but I digress'. 

As a Meeting Lead, one way to keep the Off-Topic Meeting Personality from getting the best of your meeting is to limit their interventions, and to give others in the meeting the opportunity to share their thoughts as well. 


The Unprepared Meeting Personality

It is true that sometimes we don't have time to prepare for each meeting, as there is an increasing number of meetings in each of our diaries. However, there are meeting participants that make this their perfect excuse.

The Unprepared Meeting Personality is someone who always falls behind during meetings, and is unwilling or incapable of efficiently organising a meeting , whether it's creating the agenda, inviting participants, or simply booking the meeting room. What's more, these individuals arrive to every meeting unprepared, which means that the productivity of meetings is hampered as they scramble to get up to speed, and their contribution is therefore limited. 

One of the best ways to make the Unprepared Meeting Personality understand the importance of meetings in your organisation is to get them involved in meeting preparation , and encourage them to take a dedicated meeting programme, such as a Meeting Lead certification. This will help them to feel more comfortable with organising meetings, and even take their lead in time, while emphasising the importance of thorough preparation for meetings. 


Managing the different personalities in meetings can be a challenge. For this reason, we have created a short video which makes light of some of the challenges that can arise.


Meeting personalities: Key to coaching the different players on your team

Like any good coach, leaders must first understand the different personalities in their meetings before they can take action to unlock the best performance from them. While this article covers just some of the meeting personalities that you will encounter in your meetings, they are among the most prevalent. 

Meetings consume vast amounts of time and energy, and so getting to know these different personalities, and the various ways you can work with them, becomes increasingly important. 

At the end of the day, Meeting Leads and participants alike aim at one common goal: To have productive conversations in meetings that help them reach their objectives.

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Ioana Bota
About the author
Ioana's journalistic background and experience as a digital marketer fuel her curiosity to know more about digitalisation, meeting management and business agility.