Practical strategies to encourage enthusiastic team members from talking too much and empower collaborative conversation
So what do you do when your well-meaning, enthusiastic team-member is just talking too much in meetings? It’s tricky, particularly in virtual meetings.
“Hi Karin, I watched your #AskingforaFriend about how to encourage people to speak up more in meetings, but I’ve got the EXACT OPPOSITE CHALLENGE. I’ve got a well-meaning, really strong performer, who is talking too much. I don’t want to squash his enthusiasm, but I also don’t want him to shut other people down. What should I do?”
Three Ways to Get More Voices in the Room
3 Ways to Encourage a More Inclusive Conversation
1. Go directly to the employee who is talking too much
Of course, the obvious place to start is to have a caring, straightforward conversation with the employee. Ask them to help resolve the issue by taking some ownership around bringing more voices into the room. If this person is talking too much, chances are they are confident speaking up in a group and have some influence among their colleagues.
So, they could try using their voice to empower others versus stealing the show. If you need some pointers on how to initiate a challenging conversation read this article, How to Start the Conversation Everyone Wants to Avoid.
2. Reset expectations for the entire team
Inclusive and collaborative meetings are essential for driving innovation and fostering a thriving team dynamic. It’s not just that you want the employee who is talking too much to talk less….you want other people to talk more. You want everyone to have an equal opportunity to share their ideas so you can unlock the full potential of your team. Invite everyone to come prepared with one idea on how to make your meetings more inclusive.
You might go a step further and dedicate an entire session to idea generation to get the wheels spinning. Download our free I.D.E.A. Incubator Guide to hear less from the guy who is talking too much and hear more from the rest of the team. Using a structured facilitation technique will also make it clear to the person talking too much that you’re not interested in letting one person monopolize the conversation.
3. When people are talking too much, use the power of chat
To make sure everyone has the chance to speak up try using the chat feature or other technology tools. One way to do this is before you ask a question make it clear you want everyone’s input. Stop one person from talking too much by asking everyone to put their fingers on their keyboard and get ready to respond. Then take time to read some of the responses out loud to let your team know you’re paying attention.
You could also leverage technology tools to facilitate equal participation, especially in larger meetings or remote settings. Try programs like interactive polling apps, virtual whiteboards, or collaboration software to give your team alternative ways to share their ideas. This way the ones who aren’t talking too much have a chance to contribute, regardless of their communication style or level of extroversion.
Lastly, don’t forget to recognize and celebrate the contributions of each person on your team. Regardless of the size or impact of their ideas, they need to know that their voice is important. Create a courageous culture where people speak up and idea sharing and innovative thinking are normalized. By doing so, you promote a sense of collective ownership and inspire individuals to share their ideas.
That’s a start. What are your best practices for keeping one person from talking too much and making your meetings more inclusive? Please share in the comments below.
And, if you’re ready for your teams to accelerate performance and create sustainable positive culture change from within, download a free demo of our Team Accelerator manager-led program here.