Organizational Development Consultant and Leadership Coach

Managing the problem children in meetings

August 14, 2014

From time to time, I will share great tips and advise from my colleagues.  In my next few blogs, I will share insights from Clive Mallard of The Independent Consultant.   Today’s focus is on managing the problem children in meetings.  Enjoy!

A key role in a meeting is that of facilitator – the owner of the meeting process, from planning through to meeting follow-up. As an Independent Consultant you will often find yourself in this role and how you play it will directly impact whether you achieve the meeting objectives or not. One of the challenges you will have will be disruptive meeting behaviours from participants. So let’s highlight 5 of the most common (believe me there are many more) and my suggestions as to how to overcome them.

  • Disruptive behaviour #1: People turning up late.
  • How to overcome: Always start on time and close the meeting room door when you start. Make the latecomer feel a little uncomfortable for being late; maybe pause the meeting while he / she sits down.
  • Disruptive behaviour #2: Using laptops or mobile phones during the meeting.
  • How to overcome: Ask people to use only in breaks, wait for phones to be put away and the laptop lids down; build into meeting ground rules for recurring meetings
  • Disruptive behaviour #3: Non contribution or people falling asleep!
  • How to overcome: Ask the participant, by name, for comments at an appropriate time. Or suggest to the group that  it may be time for a short break.
  •  Disruptive behaviour #4: Two meetings going on at once.
  • How to overcome: Request politely that we only have one meeting going on at any time. Pause the meeting until the whole group is focused back on the main agenda discussion.
  • Disruptive behaviour #5: Someone having another agenda (their own) in the room.
  • How to overcome: Use phrases like, “I’m keen to keep to the agreed agenda in the interest of time” or, “Let me capture your points and I suggest we take them offline” You should make a note anyway of chatting with this person outside of the meeting to see how best to resolve their issues.

Try to spot these disruptive meeting behaviours in your next few meetings and test out some of these techniques to overcome them.

Copyright © 2014 Business Fusion Limited T/A The Independents’ Consultant, All rights reserved.

For more information, please contact Clive at  or visit his website


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