How to Shut Down the Meeting Over-Talker Gracefully
Sep 05, 2016
2 min read
Everyone has been in a meeting with one — the person who loves to hear themselves talk. Other attendees start sneaking peeks at their phones and doodling on their note pads. Suddenly a quick confab has turned into another long, drawn-out waste of time.
It doesn’t have to be that way, says Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, Mass, who consults with businesses. A little advance preparation can keep the focus on the topic at hand, while maintaining respect for the speaker.
Take control by refocusing.
If you have worked with this person before, you should not be surprised when they interrupt, Smith says. Be prepared with a statement to refocus the meeting back to what you were saying. Here are some of Smith’s favorites:
· Bob, I just need to finish my thought so everyone has all of the information before we hear from you.
· Sally, I am so glad you are excited about this plan. Please jot down your ideas for the question/comment portion of the meeting at the end of the presentation.
· Bill, your concerns are well-founded. Please compile your thoughts and we will add the topic to the agenda for next week’s meeting.
· Suzy, we called this meeting specifically to cover the X-report. If there is time at the end, you can have the floor.
Set expectations in advance.
Make it clear before the meeting begins that you plan to be succinct. Smith suggests trying one of these strategies, if full discussion is not required to move forward the agenda:
· Send out all of the information in advance and ask participants to arrive ready for a vote.
· Ask participants to jot down notes during your presentation and send an email with any questions. You will compile and answer all of the questions at the next meeting.
· Limit the Q&A to 10 minutes and keep strictly to the limit.
If the over-talker is a VIP, you need to be very diplomatic, Smith says, adding that often you will need to allow the person time to speak. If the over-talker is your boss, consider having a private conversation about goals and expectations. If this is a client, listen and summarize the person’s points to make sure the client feels heard.
Coming into a meeting prepared for the inevitable over-talker prevents your meeting from getting hijacked. That’s a great investment for the payoff: You’re in position to achieve your meeting’s goals. And as a bonus, you’ll get the grateful nod from the others around the table.
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Sep 05, 2016
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