The Wall Street Journal May 16 (Section D1) had some great stuff on Meeting Killers. Four styles that can kill any well-intended meeting were described.
The Jokester –
Assault with a deadly punchline. This member cracks jokes often, especially when not appropriate. I find these people are usually nervous and need humor to break the tension. When they are challenged personally, or asked to look deeper into their own life or soul, they get sarcastic and side-track the conversation.
The Dominator –
First-degree nuisance. The person tends to be a narcissist and believes the conversation revolves around their ideas. Has to have the last word…and the first word…and lots of words in between. I find you have to confront this person or pull them offline at a break and review the ground rules – unless it is your boss. Good luck with that one.
The Naysayer –
Premeditated negativity. Waits until consensus is almost reached and then drops the bomb. A real David or Debbie Downer type who makes Eeyore look like a Pep-rally leader. It is good to run stuff by this person before meetings and get buy-in when they are off guard. Limits their impact at the meeting and you can say, “That’s interesting – a few minutes ago you were pretty excited about this. What changed?”
The Rambler –
Death by boredom. Takes the long way home…and always gets lost. Here is where you have to jump in and say, “Jim can you take the next 30 seconds and summarize your thoughts?” or “Let’s land this plane before the airport shuts down.” Use the 3-minute egg timer in the middle of the table if needed. And leverage the group to provide feedback.
Good meetings are the result of good leaders and solid ground rules. Review these regularly, set a tight agenda, and try doing some shorter meetings standing up, and do the follow up on email.