Practical Project Management

Meeting Dynamics

Jun 15

6/15/2011 2:34 PM  RssIcon

“Meetings are two people talking with a lot of witnesses.”

People process new information in essentially one of two ways. They may:

  • Internalize the concept or question and think about it until they reach a reasonable conclusion – Think-talkers, or
  • Start a conversation about the concept or question to lead to a reasonable conclusion – Talk-thinkers

Think-Talkers need time to consider the possible conclusions in their own minds before they speak. Accountants, Psychologists, and other similar professionals generally fall into this category.

Talk-Thinkers need conversation to explore possible conclusions, and will immediately start casting out ideas and hypotheses. Salespeople, Consultants, Teachers and similar professionals are generally talk-thinkers.

Neither method is better, or more effective, but they do pose different challenges for meeting dynamics.

Talk-Thinkers will usually start the conversation immediately, and their initial discussion can dictate the direction of the entire meeting – and, it may be totally off the subject. They may eventually get back to the focus of the meeting, but time constraints may not allow them to come anywhere close.

Think-Talkers typically don’t want to say anything until they have had a chance to ponder the topic, and they may take their thoughts and leave the meeting without contributing at all.

These factors make it imperative that meetings are planned where the new concepts or questions are posed to all participants ahead of time. This allows the Think-Talkers to think about them and the Talk-Thinkers to talk about them ahead of meeting time. When this occurs, both types of processors can bring their conclusions to the meeting and contribute equally.


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