After meetings, I often used to think that I talked too much. I made the mistake of dominating meetings in a way that wasn’t at all good. No one else had enough time to talk. It gave the conference a bad dynamic.
This is because people don’t want to attend meetings where the boss gives a monologue. No one wants anyone to dominate the meeting at all. When that happens, team members no longer feel like they’re working together.
So what did I need to change?
- First: realize that I’m monologuing.
- Second: talk less!
Of course, that’s easier said than done. After all, I’m the boss, right? The others aren’t used to talking much in meetings, and if I don’t say anything, there’s bound to be something missing—Isn’t there?
I tried it out anyway. I did it by taking notes in advance and sticking to them. That’s right: I thought about what I wanted to contribute before the meeting. I’m sure it won’t surprise you, but few people prepare what they will say.
Yet, preparation is just as crucial for a meeting as it is for a public speech. It’s just that no one does it!
I prepare whether I’m chairing a meeting, introducing it, or playing a significant part in speaking. I also limit my speaking time. To make sure that this works, I practice beforehand. Then I know what I want to say, and I keep the time: short and to the point.
But that’s not all.
If I know the agenda, I can think about which points I could make.
I need to be careful that I don’t say something about everything and dominate the meetings, so I limit myself to between one and two items. I speak about topics where my expertise seems most valuable. Otherwise, I keep my mouth shut!
Unfortunately, a topic that I am not prepared for always comes up in the meeting. Then I must improvise. When this happens, there is always the danger that I’ll dominate the discussion.
I must ask myself whether my opinion is vital. If so, I write down a few points in the meeting and stick to them when it’s my turn.
I have a hard time stopping myself. Especially once I’ve begun. A colleague often helps me by kicking me in the shins under the table. That hurts, so I stop. Always works!
So, now I don’t talk so much. How did I animate the rest of the team then? After all, they were used to my monologues.
Well, there is an agenda, and everyone knows it because:
This gives people time to think about what they want to say.
However, some people don’t like to be the center of attention. No matter how small the round, nothing comes of it, even if they had something important to contribute. It helps to directly ask these colleagues to take a stand in the meeting.
I have stopped dominating meetings. It’s both rude and counterproductive.
It hasn’t been easy for me to drop it, but just being well prepared and sticking to your “script” during the meeting helps. Feel free to try it out and tell me in the comments if it worked.