Talks Too Much?

When someone dominates a discussion, the other participants hold back their ideas. Team members get bored. Instead of coming up with solutions that incorporate a wealth of diverse opinions, the team ends up with a mediocre decision.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with participants who talk too much:

  • Avoid discouraging the excessive talker. Instead, encourage the others to participate more.
  • Go around the group, giving each participant a turn to talk.
  • Divide the group into pairs for preliminary sharing of ideas. Then ask each pair to give a summary report of their discussion.
  • Impose air-time limits on participants. Give the participants equal number of poker chips, each worth 30 seconds of talking time.
  • Interrupt the person with a question directed to someone else.
  • Acknowledge the comment and involve others: "Al, that was an interesting insight. Barbara, what are your views on this issue?"
  • Before the meeting or during a break, enlist the help of the excessive talker in encouraging the silent participants to open up.
  • At the start of the meeting, establish equal participation by all members as a team goal. Encourage the participants to help monitor and manage personal participation.