Please Stop Talking!! 6 Tips to Hush a Talkative Meeting Attendee

We’ve all been there before.  You’re trying to get through a meeting, and Bob (let’s call him Bob), just will NOT stop talking.  It might be because Bob wants to sound smart, or he really thinks you aren’t taking in his point about the TPS reports being redundant, but he just keeps rambling.

So, the question, naturally, is… how do you make him stop talking?
Over on the LinkedIn Project Management Link group, Jennifer Whitt asked this question, and got over 381 Project Managers to weigh in.  Here are some of the best ways that these heroic managers of jabber-jaws suggested to reel in your talking fish:
1) Distribute an Agenda with Time Allotments
This concept was suggested over and over again.  Prepare an agenda with time allotments, distribute it, set time boundaries, and then adhere to them.  The easiest way to move forward was to remind people of the specific item being discussed, and of the need to press forward to stay on time.  In other words, use the time as your scapegoat.
2) Have a Visible Parking Lot
When things get off course, have a flip chart (or otherwise visible) parking lot to capture important topics you just don’t have time for in this meeting.  Make it a habit to review this list so people don’t feel like you’re just using it to shut them up.
3) Have a Goal you’re trying to Achieve

If everyone in the room knows what needs to be completed by the end of the meeting, it’s much easier to cut off the discussion and ask “Is this helping us get to X?”.

4) Set Ground Rules up Front
Does everyone in the room know what their individual expectation is in this meeting? Review what you expect to accomplish, how you intend to do it, and how you expect people to participate upfront.  Are we raising hands, interrupting, passing bean bags to speak, going around the room?  The key is to let everyone know.
5) Summarize and Repeat
It’s possible the megaphone in the room just isn’t convinced that anyone understands them.  Thus… they keep trying to explain themselves. Try the old, “Let me try to summarize your point” … “Is that what you’re saying?”
6) Listen to your Attendees
This one might be tough to take, but it’s possible all the talking is because you’re not doing a good job incorporating what your attendees are telling you. Make sure you are not only acknowledging, but USING the valuable information you’re getting.  If not, why invite them in the first place?  Value their time, and maybe they’ll be more likely to value yours.
In summary, provide structure and set your expectations upfront.  Then make sure to listen and adapt to what your fellow attendees are telling you.
Oh, and if you want to make steps 1-3 easier… use LessMeeting 🙂

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