Wait, Too Many People are Talking at Once!

By: Lauren Millard

How many times has this happened to you?  You’ve been on a conference call, or in a board meeting, and too many people try to talk at once.  When this happens it can cause frustration for everyone involved.  The “talkers” aren’t being heard, and those listening can’t follow anything going on.


We recently held a Job Task Analysis for one of our certification programs, which involved over 20 enthusiastic people who all wanted their idea to be heard.  To help alleviate some of the frustration, we were able to implement some basic guidelines to ensure the meeting was effective, and all the ideas were heard. 

  • Create an Agenda – An agenda will help everyone to know what is on the table for discussion and identify what needs to be handled during that meeting. If there is time at the end, you can use your discretion at allowing other topics, but aiming to complete the discussion areas on the agenda is a must!
  • Select a Facilitator – This person will be in charge of ensuring the group stays on the right topic, that everyone is heard, and can help keep an eye on the time. The facilitator helps keep the meeting on track, helps everyone to get their ideas heard, and can help ensure communication is effective and hopefully prevent any arguments caused by differences of opinion.
  • Use the “Parking Lot” – I don’t mean when two people disagree send them to the parking lot to battle it out. What I mean is you need to first ensure there is an agenda and specific topics the group knows need to be discussed.  Anything that varies from those topics can be put in the “parking lot”.  Anything that goes in the “Parking lot” is a topic that can be saved and discussed at a later date when it is planned for and time allows.
  • Start on time, End on time – This is a concept we use often in our office. All of our meetings abide by it.  Every person’s time is valuable, and they may have something planned for after the meeting.  Respect everyone’s time by arriving on time, and be sure to end the meeting at the scheduled time.  If the meeting is looking like it will run long, check with everyone in attendance.  If someone has plans or another meeting afterwards, you don’t want to upset them by running long without their permission.clock

All of these are different ideas to keep everyone happy and engaged during meetings.  This will help your meetings to run more smoothly, and be more effective!  What are some ideas that your office implements during meetings?


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