How Do You Get People to STOP Talking at Meetings?

The above question is from our January 15 edition of PMP in Practice. We would love to hear your comments as well!

We posed this question, not in the spirit of meanness, but rather in the spirit of respecting the rest of the group. We all know people (teammates, peers, executives) that will go on and on just to hear themselves talk. There is no further value added to the conversation and this behavior has a tendency to derail a meeting. Below are some of the answers we received about how to respectfully ask these people to “stop talking”:

  • An agenda always helps to set the tone for the meeting. The organizer should always have control of the meeting. Also, you can try having meetings “standing up”, for max 30 minutes, which usually keeps everything nice and short. This means that the organizer of the meeting should be “organized”.
  • Publishing a time-boxed agenda a helpful tool, and then facilitating to the allotted time. Facilitator skills are important, but you can supplement your skills by enlisting help from the group. You will normally find willing participants that will keep time and prod the group in to staying on schedule. For those people that do go off topic and talk much long, you can suggest an off-line meeting to discuss the details.
  • One-on-one conversations have been quite successful. These conversations can be approached as – “Can I ask you to help me? You have some great ideas/thoughts/lots to share (whatever it might be) and it is great to have you contribute, but I notice that some of the quieter people have not had a chance to provide their thoughts. Could I ask that you reduce your participation a bit so that the others can join in?”

In addition to the comments above there were also some lighthearted responses. For example, someone suggested using Tazers and someone else suggested “gagging them”! (Editors Note: We assume these were lighthearted responses…).

One Response to “How Do You Get People to STOP Talking at Meetings?”

  1. Sameh Mostafa Sayed says:

    I think may factors can support u in this

    – The meeting roles at the start is very important
    – the meeting subject
    – The audiences are related to the meeting subject or not
    – The way of manage the meeting
    – The characteristic of the meeting leader
    – the meeting environment (light – AC – sound and …. )

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