Silencing A Chatty McChatster

Silencing A Chatty McChatster
Every Forum has one, or two, people who like to talk. These people often dominate the conversation and take up more than their allotted time. Ultimately, this leads to friction within the group and should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Here are six ways to deal with an overly talkative Forum member:
  1. Strict Time Keeping – Every Forum should have one person dedicated to being the group’s official Time Keeper. This person times each section of the Forum and lets people know when their time is up. While this role seems simple, it’s actually crucial because if each section isn’t timed correctly, the overall meeting runs over. The Time Keeper should let people know when their time is almost done and when it is done. When done right, this keeps the meeting on track because everyone respects the Time Keeper and keeps the meeting moving forward.
  2. “We Get It” Cards – Some groups have adopted a concept called “We Get It” cards. The idea is that each person gets a card that says “We Get It” on one side. If someone seems to be looping or rambling in what they are saying, the group’s individual members can quietly hold up their “We Get It” card as a subtle way to let the person know they should just move on.
  3. Taking It Offline – If conversations run long, be willing to suggest that they take the topic offline, which means they talk about it more at dinner or another time outside the meeting. Oftentimes simply saying, “how about we take this offline?” is a good reminder to people that they are wasting the group’s time on this topic right now.
  4. App Tracking – There are a few apps on the market that you could set up ahead of time to track who is talking throughout a meeting. While the idea is cool, the issue of confidentiality will quickly come up and might not be worth it.
  5. Quantitative Data – Every Forum should run a Member-To-Member assessment at least once a year. The group could include a question around respect for Forum time. Once all the results are compiled, each individual member will have a data point that shows if they talk too much or too little during Forum meetings. Psychologists call this a “Third Point” because it allows a non-human to bring the issue to the forefront as a way to reduce a person’s defensiveness to the issue.
  6. One-On-One – Some people just aren’t aware that they are talking too much, and a simple conversation with them outside the meeting might make them more aware come next time.

Of these six ideas, my top three suggestions (in order) are:

  • Having a great Time Keeper and respect for the Time Keeper.
  • Having a one-on-one conversation.
  • Running the Member-To-Member assessment.

The rest of the ideas might be worth trying but will be very dependent on the group and get buy-in from everyone beforehand. However, whatever you choose, I suggest you don’t wait too long, as the resentment from the other members will only build if the Chatty McChatster is allowed to keep going unchecked.