5 Common Personalities That Derail Meetings and How to Counteract Them

Not every personality is conducive to a productive meeting. Sometimes, they contribute nothing, are distracting or are disruptive. Meetings can be effective communication tools for enterprises. There are ways to deal with difficult personalities that will ensure productivity.

Mr. Tangent is a Problem

It’s important to have a meeting agenda and to stick to it. The guy who comes to meetings just to talk about his weekend is Mr. Tangent. He may retired on the job, but in any case, he has no interest in participating in a productive meeting.

Another form of Mr. Tangent is the guy who spontaneously comes up with an idea that offers no solution to the problem being discussed.

Instead of allowing Mr. Tangent to derail a meeting, immediately shutdown all non-meeting talk after the meeting starts. If he comes up with an unrelated topic, tell him you’ll talk to him about it offline. Immediately steer the discussion back to the appropriate agenda point.

After you shut him down a few times, he’ll get the idea. Make sure to be consistent with shutdowns with all meeting participants. Being fair will earn a leader respect and keep people coming back. Setting up meeting rules in advance can help eliminate misunderstandings, says Peter Economy of Inc.

One of the rules for the meeting leader can be to touch base with each participant before the meeting to iron out expectations and avoid surprises. Nothing derails a meeting like a surprise. Hopefully, the leader will foster enough respect that participants will alert him to surprises before the meeting.

The Joker is Occasionally Funny


This guy craves attention. He’s never been a standup comedian, and it’s obvious why he’s not in that career field. He tells a joke. No one laughs, so he continually repeats it. But still no one laughs at his lame joke.

Think of him as a short version of Conan O’Brien. It is possible to hang out with him for 45 minutes and not laugh once. The best way to deal with The Joker is to let him share his funny internet meme or whatever at the beginning of the meeting.

“Conan, do you have anything funny to share with us before we start?” Hopefully, this will satisfy The Joker, and the meeting can go one to be productive.

The Joker can be helpful at times when meetings get too intense. Depending on how good his instincts are, The Joker can jab when needed.

The IoT Guy

The internet of things provides companies an opportunity to grow and improve in many ways. The IoT Guy typically chimes into a meeting remotely from his cellphone or watch.

This participant can be a huge asset to a meeting and a business in general. He is action-oriented. Always quick to answer emails and complete project, The IoT Guy loves grabbing the newest gadgets and working them to their full potential.

Video meetings solutions for business can be a challenge to select. A company with an IoT Guy definitely needs a service provider as versatile as the BlueJeans Network. It can connect with all kinds of platforms from high-end video conference rooms to the latest cellphone technology.

If a company can keep up with The Iot Guy, it probably will have a significant market advantage by being fast at everything: customer service, innovation and production. Smart spending on disruptive technology can save companies big money not just in the long run.

The Never-Ending Storyteller

No story can end before its time. The storyteller takes five sentences to explain something that would take other people one sentence.

The Never-Ending Storyteller is in love with the sound of his own voice. He thinks he is providing everyone within earshot a great service. Sharing his vast suppository of knowledge is his pleasure.

The best way to deal with the long-winded participant is to cut him off by asking for specifics. How does his diatribe help solve the problem under discussion? If he tries to expand the discussion, suggest he set up another meeting for that topic or say, “Let’s talk about that offline.”

The talk-about-it-offline tactic usually is a brilliant maneuver for project managers running meetings. If the spinoff idea has potential, an offline discussion will help ensure it gets a fair shot. It the idea is a waste of time then the waste is minimal.


To help prevent derailments, meeting organizers should set and enforce time limits for meetings. The shorter they are the better. Make sure everyone has the agenda before the meeting and knows what is expected of him.  Always call on the quiet, non-participant along with everyone else invited to the meeting, says Jada Willis of the Forbes Coaches Council. This keeps them motivated and makes them feel needed.


DiTesco is a Business and Inbound Marketing Consultant, and founder of iBlogzone.com. iBlogzone's main objective is to help startups and small business owners achieve success in their online ventures. | More About Me and my Digital Marketing Services in SP Brazil.