A meeting can quickly lose focus when it gets interrupted, and this is usually a frustrating waste of time. If you’re leading a meeting and it gets sidetracked, here’s how to refocus.
Picture: Sebastiaan ter Burg
When you’re running a meeting and someone brings up an unrelated concern, it can be frustrating, and you may be tempted to solve the problem by ignoring them. But business professor Judith White says it’s actually more productive to acknowledge the interruption. Stop talking, listen to what the person has to say, then summarise their points to let them know you understand. From there, you can redirect back to the topic at hand. Here’s how Harvard Business Review explains it:
Let’s say, for instance, you’re leading a meeting about new corporate initiatives, and your colleague, Bob, interjects with, “Why are we bothering to discuss this? We don’t have money in the budget to execute these ideas.” You should then say, “Bob, your point is that we don’t have money in the budget for this. And that’s a good point.” After “validating his comments,” one strategy for moving on is to “redirect the discussion…” Start by “restating the purpose of the meeting.” In this instance, you could say something along the lines of, “We have great minds in this room and the president of our company asked us to work together to come up with cost-efficient ideas; I am confident we can do it.”
Refocusing comes down to three simple steps: listen, validate, and redirect. Of course, your redirection is going to vary depending on the topic, and there may not always be a seamless way to transition back to the original subject. But after letting your colleague know he or she has been heard, you can just directly remind them that you want to stick to the topic at hand to make the most of everyone’s time.
For more details, head to the full post.