Meetings are one of those interesting topics that almost everyone has an opinion about—
some people really love them (large groups help me brainstorm),
some people really despise them (you expect me to be articulate on the spot in a room full of people?),
but not many people view them with complete ambivalence.
Just as there are many strong opinion about meetings, there is more than one distinct meeting personality.
The bulldog: comes to the meeting with a preconceived notion of what’s right, and either A) makes everyone else agree with them or B) doesn’t listen to anyone else’s opinion and leaves the meeting with the same perspective, or C) won’t even give anyone else a chance to talk.
The last word: steps into the room, comments on knowing something, then answers every general question and says, “Mm-hmm” constantly just so everyone knows they know things.
The thinker: doesn’t say much, but when asked, has a surprisingly articulate opinion about the discussion.
The questioner: probes into the heart of the matter, sometimes asking uncomfortable questions that help people see things from new angles and think of elements they hadn’t considered.
The talker: doesn’t necessarily have anything to say, and they’re not usually ill-willed, but they talk anyways because they like to talk, and because they want to feel heard, and because they don’t like the sound of silence, and because it’s lonely sitting at a quiet desk all day, and because they thought of all kinds of important thoughts that they wanted to share, and because . . . Oh. Sorry.
The moderator (read: mediator): brings a calming spirit, which is often tasked with either gently quieting the Talker and encouraging the Thinker, or trying to salvage everyone else’s thoughts when the Bulldog shows up.
The single comment: sort of pays enough attention to insert comments here and there that may or may not loosely relate.
The quiet one: usually sits in a corner, doesn’t make much noise, might be listening or might be thinking about dinner and picking kid up from soccer practice after work.
The sleepy: didn’t seem to get enough rest last night, and is fervently hoping no one notices.
There are probably several more categories, but in the interest of a not-quite-comprehensive list, I’ll just add one more:
The distracted writer: who’s not actually paying any attention to the subject of the meeting, but instead psycho-analyzing everyone for a blog post . . .