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Handle the interruptions in your meetings efficiently

I have been in situations where a meeting was interrupted several times and made me feel that the agenda of the meeting was derailed. Have you been in such situations?

As an introverted leader chairing a meeting, such interruptions can pose a challenge to maintaining a productive and respectful discussion. However, with the right approach, introverted chairpersons can effectively navigate interruptions, ensuring everyone's voices are heard while maintaining control over the meeting's flow.

In this leadership tip, we will explore strategies to handle interruptions with grace, empowering introverted chairpersons to create an inclusive and engaging meeting environment.

1. Cultivate a Calm and Assertive Demeanor:

When faced with interruptions, it's essential to remain composed and assertive. Take a deep breath, maintain a calm demeanor and project confidence. By doing so, you set the tone for respectful communication and establish yourself as a capable leader.

2. Use Verbal and Non-Verbal Techniques:

Implement both verbal and non-verbal techniques to manage interruptions effectively. Non-verbal cues, such as raising a hand or making a specific gesture, can gently signal participants that you have noticed their desire to speak. Verbal cues, like saying, "Thank you for your input. Let's address that in a moment," help acknowledge interruptions while redirecting and guiding the discussion.

3. Acknowledge and Respect Interruptions:

Interrupting participants often have valuable insights to share. Instead of dismissing their input outright, acknowledge their contribution. Express gratitude for their willingness to participate and offer a brief response that recognizes the relevance of their point. This demonstrates respect and encourages ongoing engagement.

4. Redirect the Conversation:

After acknowledging the interruption, redirect the conversation back to the current speaker or agenda item. Use phrases like, "Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Let's return to [speaker's name]'s point and ensure we explore it fully." By smoothly guiding the discussion back on track, you maintain control over the meeting's agenda.

5. Address Interruptions Directly, if Necessary:

In certain situations, when interruptions persist, it may be necessary to address them directly. Calmly but firmly remind participants of the ground rules, emphasizing the importance of active listening and allowing everyone an opportunity to contribute. Use phrases like, "I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I kindly request that we allow [speaker's name] to complete their point before continuing the discussion."

6. Set Time Limits:

To manage interruptions effectively, establish time limits for each agenda item or speaker. Communicate these time boundaries clearly at the beginning of the meeting and remind participants when the allocated time is coming to an end. This helps maintain focus and discourages excessive interruptions.

I hope these tips will help you manage your next meeting better.


Author: Johncey George, Leadership Coach for Introverts

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