How to Prevent Repetition From Dominating Meeting Time

How many meetings have you been to where you felt like saying something or the eye rolling of other meeting attendees method they seem to be thinking “please shut up so we can continue” to someone else at a meeting who wouldn’t let go of some topic they brought up. You didn’t want to be rude so you and just let them ramble, didn’t you? Of course you have because you did not know what to do and how to do it in a way that would not be offensive. So you let them ramble on and waste your valuable time and that of others in the meeting. What can be done to easily resolve this meeting problem in the future?

First, you need to recognize that people who tend to keep bringing up the same subject do so because they do not feel they have been heard or that you do not realize the severity of the situation as they see it. How can you get someone who keeps repeating themselves as if you are not listening to know they were heard? Secondly, the solution is simple – write it down! Not just in your meeting minutes but on meeting records that are visible to everyone in the meeting room. This lets the person know they were heard and that their issue will be dealt with. The third thing to do is be sure you do have a plan for dealing with that issue in the future. Dealing with the issue can be assigning someone an action to research the issue, problem, or different solutions. Or you can choose to put the issue on a future meeting agenda so the group can discuss it and decide what should be done. Depending on the urgency or complexity of the issue, sometimes just putting the issue on a “group issues board” or “team parking lot” is sufficient because it may resolve itself in a few weeks.

Once the issue is recorded, you can typically go on with your planned meeting agenda. However, sometimes just recording it doesn’t work. When this happens, assure the individual that their issue has been recorded and that it will be reviewed later in the meeting for possible action. Then during your meeting close, be sure you readdress the issue and decide what t do with it and when. If you do not do the promised follow-up at the end of the meeting, you will lose the trust and respect of the person who brought up the issue because they will see you as insincere. Also, you may cause them to believe you do not value their input and lose out on future contributions by this individual.

A published and agreed upon agenda with stated timeframes is also a helpful measure to prevent anyone from going off in a different direction or staying on a topic too long during a meeting. An agenda agreed to at the beginning of the meeting by the group helps focus attendee attention on meeting purpose, in addition as providing a guideline for how time is to be spent. For a meeting to be effective, all attendees need to understand why they have come to the meeting and can feel that what they have to contribute is of value to the meeting.

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