I go to lots of meetings. Maybe you do too. One of the things that continues to amaze me is how some people seem to have little concept of how long they talk. At a recent meeting I witnessed co-presenters, who both had valuable things to say, but one talked so long that the other’s time had to be cut short. This also happens of course in interpersonal conversation when one person is long winded or dominates a discussion. I must admit, even I do this sometimes. (I have this on good authority from my husband.) This week I’m going to try to talk shorter. I’ve had some good practice while on our recent trip to Korea and Japan since everything had to be translated.
Strategies I’ve learned when dealing with long winded people in groups are:

  1. Ask people to write down their thought on a piece of paper first. This gives the introverts time to collect their thoughts.
  2. Announce ahead of time that no one can share a second time until everyone has spoken once.
  3. When the talker takes a breath (or when the leader has the floor) refer to a point the speaker just made, then transition to a new person.
  4. Break into smaller groups or partners so everyone gets more air time.
  5. Remember that often extroverts talk in order to think. (That’s me) The talker isn’t trying to dominate, they just need to talk to figure out what they think. (This doesn’t make it helpful, but it can increase understanding.
  6. Give the talker a job to do – like take minutes or get refreshments.