Have you ever found yourself stuck in one of those meetings with a co-worker who just won't stop talking?  To make things worse, the person who's supposed to be chairing the meeting does absolutely nothing and just lets them continue?  As you look around the table you see some people beginning to nod off, while others just roll their eyes and look at their watches.

If you've ever had to run a meeting, you know how hard it can be to stop someone from talking too much.  You want to keep things moving along, stay on track and not run over time.  You want everyone to participate, but you don't want someone to take over.

How do you cut someone off who won't stop talking in a meeting?

This question kept one of my clients awake at night.  As a new project leader, she had to work closely  with the Information Systems (IS) Department and chair regular team meetings.  But she was finding it impossible to run the meetings because of one senior IS manager.

It seems he was eager and talkative by nature.  He had lots of experience and lots of good ideas. So he always jumped in first and took up most of the meeting time.  Other people on the team had simply given up trying to get into the discussion.  They were frustrated with the overbearing manager.  And they were getting fed up with my client for not even trying to cut him off. In a recent performance review her boss said she needed to be more assertive with the senior manager.

At her wit's end, she shook her head:  "I can't stop him from talking".

In our coaching sessions we talked about her two roles.  She was both meeting chair and project leader.  Unlike  a co-worker or friend, she had more authority--and more responsibility --to do something.  I described simple techniques she could use to stop him from taking over.  She tried some of them out at the next team meeting.  Not surprisingly, he tried to keep talking.  But she felt more confident and in control.  She jumped in, held up her hand and cut him off saying: "Good idea, Bill.  Thanks. Now let's hear from someone else".

For more tips on dealing with someone who is overly talkative in a meeting...


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