Running Successful Meetings (Part 2): Know Who is in the Room


This is the second part of this series on how we can successfully run and lead meetings.

Many times when we’re asked to lead a meeting we think about who is attending. We think about their job, their position or title and we may even think about what role we hope they will play in the meeting. What we often omit is their temperament and how we as the meeting leader can best communicate, help them gather data and how we can understand the way they prefer to make decisions.

Let’s briefly look at these three and develop how we can successfully lead a meeting:

Communication—Not everyone is just like us. Approximately half the population is introverted and about half is extroverted. So, chances are that when we are leading a meeting 50% of the people won’t be wired like you. Introverts think before they speak, so an agenda (see next post) is invaluable to them, especially prior to the meeting so they can think before they come. Extroverts speak as a way to think so while they don’t often need an agenda, they do need to speak so they can open their thinking about what is being discussed or presented. As a leader you also cannot let the introvert’s need to think or the extrovert’s need to talk hijack the meeting in any direction. You need to appreciate each one’s preference and communicate directly to that preference.

Gathering Data—As with communication styles people also gather data differently based on their temperament preferences. Some people in the meeting will want logical data while others have an innate sense of their “gut feeling” that often overrides any logic or data you can present to them. You need to understand clearly who is around the table and, if information is helpful to get to a decision, you need to know how they gather and absorb data or information. One other insight—people who trust their “gut” are harder to convince than people who rely on logical data (what they can touch and feel or see in numbers). So prepare for the meeting with the best presentation you can built on who is around the table and how they prefer to gather information.

Decision Making—Not quite half the population makes decisions logically and more than half make them emotionally. If your meeting is full of people who make decision emotionally or based on feelings, you need to realize that fact and help them also weigh the logical evidence. If the people are all logical decision makers, then you need to guide them to see the emotional side. Your goal is quality decisions and therefore letting people decide from both sides is critical.

Running a successful meeting is more than just sitting at the head of the table. You need to facilitate the meeting by helping people engage. If it’s a decision-making meeting you need to lead so that the group makes quality decisions. You met both objectives by understanding their communication preferences, helping them clearly understand the information or data, and by helping them make quality, well-rounded decisions that are rooted in both logic and feelings.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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