Non-stop talkers present a challenge in all meetings. However, they can be politely “muted” with a few effective communication methods.
Chatterboxes are a species that can often be found in meetings. They risk jeopardizing the success of any discussion by speaking extensively at length. However, as the chair of the meeting, you have a few effective methods at your disposal to rein these “soloists” in.
1. State the main focus of the meeting
Non-stop talkers will feel as if they have free rein if the objective and scope of the meeting are unclear. As such, before the meeting, state the precise direction that the meeting should take and what the meeting is all about.
2. Time management is key to success
Despite the fact that they don’t last very long, super-short stand-up meetings, as preferred in the Agile world, allow all participants to have their say. Systematically getting participants to speak one after the other and giving them each an allotted amount of time will ensure that this is the case.
3. Working instead of talking
The allocation of specific tasks is one of the most effective methods for stopping chatterboxes in their tracks and giving all participants “airtime”. For example, participants sitting next to each other can work together in huddle groups on a particular issue, write down their thoughts on little cards and then present them to the rest of the participants afterwards.
4. Visualization and categorization
Visualization techniques are the best way to focus meeting attendees. A prime example is the task board, as used in Agile project management. Here, tasks are written down on post-it notes and categorized into processing stages (outstanding, in progress, completed). This enables everyone to see which point is under discussion. And in the event that one of the participants should wander off topic (which definitely happens much less often with this helpful trick), all that you will usually have to do is point at the topic on the board.