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Keeping Meetings on Track: “Over-time Offender” Stereotypes
By Kailash Awati

Don’t know about you, but I’ve wasted way too much time in meetings that have meandered on and on. I have nothing against a well managed meeting. But I’ve run out of patience with the other, seemingly more common, confabulation that may be familiar to some of you: a meeting that goes on and on, in total disregard of the allotted time. The discussion somehow strays off the agenda, and the meeting chair doesn’t bring it back on track. If you sit through many such meetings (as I, unfortunately, have) you’ll begin to recognise stereotypical personalities who are responsible for the majority of “over-time offences”. As with all steroptypes, they’re one-dimensional characters. However, based on experience, I believe that close approximations of them exist in all corporate environments. Here are some that I’ve encountered. Recognise and neutralise them before they take control of your meetings:

William Windbag (aka Oscar Opinion): Will’s vice is his voice: he loves the sound of it, and exercises it at every opportunity. Give Will a chance to hold forth, and he will. Do yourself a favour and don’t let him get started. This is harder said than done because he has an Important Opinion on everything.

Tim Tangent: Tim is the master of irrelevance. He will take your meeting off in directions unintended, unexplored and totally unnecessary. Stop him before he gets started. Better yet, leave him off your invitee list.

Nate Naysayer: Nate’s first reaction to any idea is: “it wont’t work”. Your first reaction will be to start debating the point. Don’t do it. Thank Nate for his input and move on. Else you’re in for a long and pointless argument.

Sid Smalltalk: Sid delays the start of every meeting by at least 15 minutes by indulging in banalities. He absolutely must know how everyone, their families and their pet rhinos are doing. An authoritative “let’s get started” usually stops Sid in his tracks.

I look forward to hearing about your over-time offender stereotypes.

Original article can be found at here.

Kailash Awati currently manages IT development at a multinational in Australia. Over the last several years, he has managed IT projects at companies ranging from startups to established firms. He has also worked as a business and technology consultant for companies in Europe and the US.

On the technical side, he is a seasoned database architect and administrator with wide experience in designing, implementing and administering databases for transactional and analytical applications.

Earlier, in what seems to him like another life, he did research in fluid dynamics and other areas of physics.

For what it’s worth, he holds doctoral degrees in physics and chemical engineering together with assorted certifications in project management and database administration. An admittedly strange mix, which he sometimes finds hard to explain.

He blogs at eight to late, where he writes about project management and other (at times distantly) related topics. Oh, and he also maintains a web presence at www.orafusion.com where he publishes longer articles on his professional interests and the occasional cryptic crossword.

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