You don’t ever want to be the person whose voice is the only thing people remember after a meeting because you talked so much. Here’s how to avoid this, whether you’re in charge of the meeting or just attending it.
Play a game
Art Markman, a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, an author and Founding Director of the Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations, writes in the Harvard Business Review about how to prevent yourself from dominating the conversation during a meeting you’re in charge of.
One of his tips is to “use a round-robin format,” referencing its use in the film 12 Angry Men.
“Even if someone’s life doesn’t hang in the balance, this round-robin format can be a good way to ensure that many people have a chance to express their opinions. You can give people the option of passing on their turn, but at least you are allowing everyone a chance to lend their voice,” he continues. “There are many people who don’t like to be the center of attention, even at a fairly small meeting, so they won’t chime in even if they have something valuable to say. In a round-robin, attention is given to people by the structure of the meeting — not from being called on — so the pressure is off.”
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Listen with a purpose
Donna Rosato, formerly a senior writer at MONEY Magazine (now a senior writer at Consumer Reports), features commentary on talking too much at work from Annie Stevens in MONEY. Stevens is now Principal Consultant at leadership development and executive coaching firm ClearRock.
“Practice active listening,” Rosato writes. “Don’t just be lying in conversational wait for your turn to talk. Pay close attention to what is being discussed and ask relevant follow up questions. Showing your listening skills can be just as important as showing how much you can talk, says Stevens. ‘If the person you are speaking with believes that you’re interested in what they’re saying, he or she will think positively about you.'”
Reel it in
One of the indicators is “You Start Debates That Aren’t Relevant to the Conversation.” Moy provides an alternative.
“The solution here is simple — stay engaged in the debate everyone is having. Of course, bring up relevant tangents if it relates back to the meeting’s goal, but don’t interrupt a conversation everyone else is having, just so you can bring up that great idea you’ve been thinking about forever,” he writes. “Waiting just a few minutes will not only help you be present in the current conversation, but it will help you avoid seeming like a ‘me first’ teammate to the rest of your colleagues.”