Reining in narcissists during meetings

HeartI am involved with a lot of different organizations, which means I attend many meetings with people I don’t know very well. Often these meetings start with the task of everyone going around the room and introducing themselves. For me this is a painful process: Since many people like hearing themselves talk, these introductions can take a significant amount of time away from the meeting. It isn’t that I don’t want to know who these people are and what they do, but an unscripted introduction is not the best way to gain this information.

If you are hosting a large meeting where you believe introductions are necessary, you should provide a list of attendees with short bios or at least titles and contact information for the participants. Additionally, provide nametags, which make it easy for people to strike up a conversation before the meeting if they like. These two steps will save you lots of time and keep me from pulling my hair out!

Related article: 16 Signs That You’re a Narcissist


  1. This is one of those things that seems so obviously inefficient that there must be some deep-seated psychological reason why it works the way it does, e.g. people are more likely to agree with your ideas if you let them talk about themselves for a while.

    I feel like the most wasted hours of my career so far have been when instructors brought in for training sessions burned the first hour having everyone introduce themselves when we all already knew each other. But there must be some reason why they do that — some brain mechanism that makes people more interesting when you’ve told them something about yourself, or that you retain information better when you’ve been engaged like that. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Mike! Interesting to think about. All I know is that these introductions drive me nuts!

  2. I’m with you on your thoughts Mike. I’ve often thought that people do it to “sell” themselves. Perhaps by enthralling everyone with their long winded self bios they feel they establish more credibility when it comes to any additional speaking.

    • Good thoughts. I think people overall need to be more considerate of other people’s time, whether it’s in meetings, via e-mail, or any other form of communication. Thanks Jonathan!

  3. The best way I’ve seen this handled is you only get to introduce yourself “on the fly” when you naturally participate in the meeting. This rewards contribution. It has to be structured, so the leader needs to say “state your name, your title, etc” to limit the preamble to a contribution, but it has a way of tying the preamble to something they are contributing, which also helps you remember everyone’s name.

    • That sounds like a great way of making introductions! Thanks for sharing Jim!


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