How to Handle People Who Won’t Stop Talking in Meetings

Ever been in a meeting with someone who wouldn’t stop talking?

You sat there politely hoping they’d wrap it up.

You looked to see who else was frustrated.

You wondered why the guy in charge really wasn’t.

And the longer they talked, the more you tuned out.

There’s nothing more frustrating than being held hostage by a non-stop talker. It’s distracting and irritating. People can’t wait to get out of the room even if there’s still work to be done.

“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” –Yogi Berra

Maybe they don’t know how disrespectful they’re being, but it’s time someone taught this “Ramblin’ Rose” some self-control.

Look for an opening or a pause when they take a breath, then say, “Excuse me.” (repeat if necessary)

“In the interest of time, can you give us your three key points in sixty seconds or less?”

There’s nothing wrong with calling direct attention to the elephant in the room as long as you do it politely.

To avoid this dilemma, set “Rules of the Road” beforehand by saying, “We agree to be brief, relevant and respectful of others. If we ramble, we agree to be held accountable by those in this room.”

For a tough nut, this may take repeating. Or perhaps the person in charge should call a break and take them aside to address the issue.

Maybe there’s more than one way to tackle this talker. Can you share your ideas in the comments below?

Comments

  1. I was in a meeting last week where a gentleman and lady kept having their own side bar conversations. The facilitator was kind, patient and professional and tried to get them to understand that they didn’t have the floor.
    That didn’t stop them…they continued and I finally said, “Hey guys, let’s just have one person talk at a time because I can’t hear what’s being said.”
    That seemed to shut them up; I was frustrated and tried to remain left-brained. I think the facilitator should have done more to control the flow as it was disrespectful.
    Thanks for starting your blog with such an important topic. Much success as you journey down the “Coaching” trail…I know you will do great things. Happy Monday, Laura!

    • LJBenjamin says:

      Mike, thanks for your kind wishes and great comment! You really did use your “Personal Horsepower” to manage that situation and kudos to you! It is too bad the facilitator didn’t handle it effectively. This is what causes folks more frustration – when the person in charge isn’t!

  2. Felicia Barbera says:

    Thank you for this tip, I have a difficult time with people who are rambling and going on and on and on…your suggestion seems very reasonable.