How to prevent repetition from dominating meeting time


How many meetings have you been in where you felt like saying something or when other meeting attendees roll their eyes does it mean they seem to be thinking “please shut up so we can continue” to another person in a meeting that wouldn’t let aside some issues they raised. You didn’t mean to be rude so you let them ramble, didn’t you? Of course I did because I didn’t know what to do and how to do it in a way that wasn’t offensive. So you let them ramble and waste your valuable time and that of others in the meeting. What can be done to easily solve this meeting problem in the future?

First, you need to recognize that people who tend to bring up the same topic do so because they feel they haven’t been heard or because they don’t realize the seriousness of the situation as they see it. How can you let someone who keeps repeating themselves like you’re not listening know they were heard? Second, the solution is simple: write it down! Not only in the meeting minutes, but also in the meeting records that are visible to everyone in the meeting room. This lets the person know that they have been heard and that their problem will be dealt with. The third thing to do is make sure you have a plan to deal with that problem in the future. Dealing with the problem can be assigning someone an action to investigate the problem, problem, or workarounds. Or you may choose to put the topic on the agenda for a future meeting so that the group can discuss it and decide what needs to be done. Depending on the urgency or complexity of the issue, sometimes simply putting the issue on a “group issue board” or “team parking lot” is sufficient, as it may resolve itself within a few weeks.

Once the problem is logged, you can normally proceed with the scheduled meeting agenda. However, occasionally just recording it doesn’t work. When this happens, reassure the person that their issue has been recorded and will be reviewed later in the meeting for possible action. Then, during the closing of the meeting, be sure to bring the problem back up and decide what to do about it and when. If you don’t follow through by the end of the meeting, you’ll lose the trust and respect of the person who raised the issue because they’ll see it as insincere. Also, you can make them believe that you don’t value their contributions and lose future contributions from this person.

A published and agreed upon agenda with specific deadlines is also a useful measure to prevent someone from drifting in a different direction or staying too long on one topic during a meeting. An agenda agreed upon at the beginning of the meeting by the group helps to focus attendees’ attention on the purpose of the meeting, as well as providing guidance on how time should be spent. For a meeting to be effective, all attendees must understand why they have come to the meeting and can feel that what they have to contribute is valuable to the meeting.