Nothing is worse than when an important meeting gets derailed by an excessive talker. Even worse, it can be extremely difficult to deal with people who talk too much during meetings in an efficient, yet respectful manner. If you fail to acknowledge and appropriately deal with someone that exhibits dominant behaviour during meetings, you may run the risk of hosting an ineffective meeting that leaves your teammates feeling overwhelmed, dissatisfied, or frustrated. 

The good news is that you have the ability to take back control and make your meetings delightful for everyone in attendance. Whether you’re the chatty culprit, or you’re dealing with a talkative teammate, here is everything you need to know about politely dealing with people who talk too much in meetings. 

Why do some people talk too much in meetings? 

Talking too much during a meeting can be detrimental to your teammates. It can be distracting and take away from the purpose of meeting. Reasons vary, but the primary reasons why someone may be talking too much during meetings are as follows: 

  • People who talk too much in meetings may need attention and may be yearning for someone to listen to them. 
  • They may be an auditory learner and retain information best when they are able to recite the information themselves.
  • These individuals may not have mental clarity and may struggle to put their thoughts together concisely.
  • People who talk too much in meetings may not want to confront their own feelings and may talk excessively as a coping mechanism. 
  • People talk excessively during meetings when they feel as though they know a lot on the subject matter, meaning a time limit is imperative for any meeting agenda. 

What is considered excessive talking during meetings? 

Excessive talking or oversharing is something we’ve all probably witnessed during meetings. If you aren’t contributing to the subject matter at hand in a valuable way, or if you find someone derailing the conversation or straying away from the meeting agenda, chances are they’re talking too much. You can identify if someone is talking too much during meetings by determining if they are the only ones talking or contributing to the meeting or if they frequently talk over or interrupt other teammates. Excessive talking by individuals can change the atmosphere of the meeting and can hinder others willingness to participate.

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to create a collaborative agenda, outline talking points, and stay on top of the conversation.

Are you dominating the conversation? 

Everyone has that one person that pops into mind when you picture someone that constantly interrupts or talks too much during meetings but what if you’re the culprit and you didn’t even know it? 

Here are 3 tell-tale signs that you may be talking too much during your meetings: 

You relate everything to your personal life 

Being personal and showing vulnerability are both great traits to have but oversharing or relating everything back to your personal life may not always be the best course of action when it comes to meetings. Being relatable is ideal for one-on-one meetings but may be distracting or lead to one-off conversations that don’t pertain to the meeting agenda. 

One rule of thumb to keep in mind when it comes to sharing your personal experience is to only do so if you’re asked for a specific example. If not, it’s best to save your story for a more appropriate time. If you’re in charge of the meeting agenda, consider setting aside a few moments at the end of your meeting where those who wish to participate can engage in small talk and share their personal experiences. 

You acknowledge your coworkers’ thoughts without adding anything valuable 

Nothing beats being on the same page as coworkers, but a short acknowledgement is much more powerful than a lengthy agreement speech in the middle of an important meeting. Adding unnecessary commentary is a quick and easy way to get off topic and annoy your coworkers that may have more pressing matters to take care of. 

The key is to be short and sweet. Simply state you agree by acknowledging the point and move to the next action item as quickly as possible. Make moving the conversation forward quickly and efficiently your main priority. You can also add your thoughts to the meeting agenda so attendees can read your notes on their own time.

How to deal with people that talk too much in meetings 

Dealing with people that talk too much during meetings can be difficult, especially because you want to make sure to handle the situation politely and with grace. When dealing with people who talk too much in meetings, it’s important to remain polite and cordial. 

Here are 5 good ideas that will help you deal with people who talk too much: 

1 Create an agenda 

Creating a meeting agenda and sending it to attendees in advance means that different team members can add talking points and prepare for the meeting in a way that’s effective, and respectful of everyone’s time. As the meeting host, you can see if there’s only one person dominating the conversation. If this happens, consider encouraging more teammates to contribute to the agenda before the meeting begins or asking others to share their thoughts. 

2 Redirect the conversation 

As the meeting host or facilitator, you own the responsibility of ensuring the meeting runs smoothly. The onus is on you to run an effective meeting that speaks to the predefined agenda. You should take your role as the host or facilitator seriously and prioritize redirecting conversations that may be unnecessary or off-topic. Politely mention if someone is going off track and offer they meet afterwards to further discuss.

3 Move new items to the parking lot 

If an important matter arises that isn’t part of the meeting agenda, you can move it to the notes section and revisit it on a later date. Assuring someone that their point has been moved to the parking lot to discuss at a later date rather than dismissing their point entirely is a great way to make them feel heard and understood. 

4 Set time limits for comments 

Setting time limits for comments will ensure that more vocal teammates are kept under control. If a predetermined time limit is specified, it will make it easier for you as the host to move from action item to action item without getting caught up in any lengthy conversations. And attendees know they are being timed so they can be more conscious of how long they comment for.

5 Share honest feedback (in private) 

Feedback is a gift and sharing honest or negative feedback can be extremely beneficial, especially when it comes to self-improvement and workplace etiquette. When providing honest feedback, it’s important that you do so in a safe space and privately. Start out by asking the receiver when they are available to receive feedback and prepare what you are going to say in advance before facilitating a feedback meeting.

Tips to prevent someone from dominating the meeting 

Dominating behaviour is not ok, especially in a working environment where everyone’s opinions are equally valued. If you feel as though someone is continuously dominating the conversation during meetings, consider approaching them outside of the meeting to discuss the subject matter further. Doing so would allow the person to share their opinion without taking over the entire meeting. 

Additional steps that you can take to prevent people from dominating your meetings include: 

Sticking to the agenda 

Building and sticking to your pre-defined meeting agenda is a great way to keep things moving while ensuring that key action items are prioritized and discussed during the meeting. If you stick to the agenda and implement time limits, attendees will be more inclined to contribute concisely when it’s most appropriate. 

Setting ground rules in advance 

Setting the ground rules before the meeting occurs will ensure that everyone is on the same page. Providing your teammates with the tools they need to prepare for a meeting in advance is a great way to ensure your meeting runs smoothly. If you need additional assistance, consider implementing a company-wide meeting policy.

Stressing that everyone’s input is valued and important 

Creating an environment that fosters inclusive meetings is essential for workplace happiness. Making sure that everyone feels heard and creating a space where everyone feels as though they can contribute equally without judgement is extremely important. 

Make Your Meetings Delightful 

A solid meeting agenda is key to politely dealing with people who talk too much in meetings. Fellow helps you and your teammates build great meeting habits through collaborative agendas, real-time note-taking, and time-saving templates. Fellow’s easy-to-use agenda builder ensures that your meetings start with clarity, and everyone feels inspired to contribute.