Meeting Management Requires Interruption

We introverts struggle with injecting ourselves into conversation. In earlier posts I have focused on meeting participation. Today let’s focus on how to guide the conversation when you are the meeting facilitator. Not a smooth task, yet one that requires both courage and calm to interject and set the tone.

Do you wait for the lull before interjecting?
Many of us prefer this, for it allows us to feel we are respecting conversers. However, we who run meetings see how quickly things steer off-track. If we were to wait for a lull in conversation, we may be disrespecting the meeting’s intention and structure, offending those who wish we would just get the focus back on track.

Instead of waiting for the lull, interrupt.

How to interrupt:
1. Ask for the segue.
“I think I’m missing something here, can you explain how this relates back to…” and then fill in the track the conversation had steered from.

2. Seek permission.
“Do you mind if we stay focused on [the topic at hand] for this discussion?”

3. Use body language.
I might put my hand out or even stand up, indicating it’s time to pass the conversation on to another individual. Usually this requires saying as much as well.

4. Simply state the need to get back on track.
“Thank you for that, (give person’s name). Now let’s move on to….”

There is no need to apologize for directing the conversation. As soon as we begin apologizing, we have shifted the focus again. Keep things moving forward with the confidence that it’s important to do so. Most people appreciate it.

Meeting managers who guide conversation

  • respect others’ time
  • respect the focus of the meeting
  • demonstrate their willingness to lead

Aren’t these values of the introvert? Push forward with the interruption!

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On April 16th, 2012, posted in: facilitation, introverts, meetings by