Workplace meetings are not just for talking… and talking… and talking without arriving at a conclusion. To avoid the waste of time and energy caused by interminable speeches, you first must define the objective (as described in Mistake 1). What do you want the group to accomplish in this session? Generate ideas? Evaluate options? Make a decision? Without clarity about the purpose, you will not know when to end the discussion and move on to another topic – or end the meeting.

But before changing the topic or ending the meeting, it is important to summarize what has been accomplished so far, define the next steps, specifying who is responsible seeing that those things happen and by when.

Example of too much talk and no action: Allow a few people (you know who they are) to dominate the discussion, repeating their points of view over and over again, without proposing any new perspectives or solutions.

Example of effective control of the verbose: Respectfully but firmly interrupt the participants who repeat themselves, summarize the essence of their contribution and then invite someone else to speak.

Benefits of correcting this mistake:

  • Saves time
  • Encourages sharing “air time”
  • Can prevent participants from becoming impatient
  • Focuses the discussion
  • Keeps things moving

In practice: In the meeting meetings include the key points of discussion (not every word said), as well as the commitments made for follow up on the topics discussed. Send the minutes to all participants immediately after the meeting and then review and update the list at the next meeting.

Facilitation tip: Establish the ground rule “No one speaks twice until everyone who wants to comment on a topic has the opportunity to do so” and another that says “Seek a solution”.

                         After hearing a variety of opinions about the subject, ask,                              “Does anyone have a proposal?”

This is the fifth of five messages about common mistakes that that make meetings boring and unproductive. You can see the complete list in our new, free guide: Excellent Meetings at Work.