Lead Better Meetings by Talking Less

by Mike O'Neill

I’m an extrovert. As such, sometimes I tend to talk too much when I’m leading meetings. Dominating a meeting, especially when you’re the senior person in the room is typically counterproductive.
But if you prepare better and take steps to ensure that others contribute, you will lead better meetings. I found these tips from Art Markman helpful. Hope you will too.

Few people adequately prepare what they are going to say in meetings. But preparation is just as important for a meeting as it is for a public speech. Give yourself a time limit and try to condense what you have to say into that amount of time.

If the agenda for the meeting is posted in advance, make a few notes about what you will say about the points that you know are going to be raised. And resist the urge to comment on every point. Find the one or two places where your input and expertise are most valuable.


Of course, you should make sure that other people in the meeting also contribute. That means that whenever you are running a meeting, you need to have a clear agenda ahead of time. You can’t expect that everyone will come up with something to say on-the-fly or that their initial thoughts are what everyone needs to hear

Instead, send the agenda around in advance, and then try to pop in on some of the people whose opinions you want to get, especially those who often don’t contribute. Let them know that you are hoping they will speak up at the meeting. Once a few people start talking, there’s a good chance others will jump in.


A round-robin format can be a good way to ensure that many people have a chance to express their opinions. You can give people the option of passing on their turn, but at least you are allowing everyone a chance to lend their voice.

There are many people who don’t like to be the center of attention, even at a fairly small meeting, so they won’t chime in even if they have something valuable to say. In a round-robin, attention is given to people by the structure of the meeting – not from being called on – so the pressure is off.


SOURCE: Bring Your Brain to Work: Using Cognitive Science to Get a Job, Do it Well and Advance Your Career. – Art Markman




The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.

Mark Twain

I don’t think … then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


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