Yes, I know, I advocate not using slang. This week, I’ll make an exception and include the definition. It’s “meeting road kill.” This is a situation in which one person monopolizes a meeting in a non-productive manner thoroughly exhausting the participants to a near comatose state and leading to the following exchange of text:
“He’s sucking the life out of the meeting.”
“I know, does he not realize we’re 20 minutes into the presentation and he’s been the only one talking for 15 minutes”
“LOL and he is not the presenter or facilitator.”
I’m not sure what was worse. Was it the person consuming all of the time or that the person facilitating that allowed someone to monopolize the meeting?
When meetings are face to face, there are subtle ways to counter the meeting monopolist. Attendees start to give the monopolist exasperated looks or start to do other things. While these are all indicators of extreme boredom, the monopolists are sometimes oblivious. It’s even harder on the phone; there are no visual clues.
If you are concerned you have inadvertently become the meeting monopolist, here is a key indicator. If you have talked for 10 minutes and are not presenting – you could be that person that is sucking the life out of the meeting. Consider, as valuable as you think your comments and questions are, taking up the time of the 5, 10, 15 people on the call is not a productive use of anyone’s time or your reputation. Perhaps a one-on-one conversation with one key person would be a better use of time.
If you host or facilitate a meeting with a monopolist, you are responsible for managing this situation. There are various techniques to do this. There was a session with over two hundred people led by a VP of research. Masterfully, he responded to the person that had already asked three questions, “Let’s give others an opportunity to engage in this dialog.” One of my favorite speakers, after a short period of time, will state, “We are now limited with time, please only ask questions that are of interest to everyone.” Simple. Direct. These simple statements establish ground rules for all to follow.
Speaking of questions, do not be the person who asks questions to impress management. If you want management recognition, give a compliment about something specific and how it applies to future performance. Don’t simply make up a question just to be to asking a question.
With sports, you know you are in trouble when you are the only one working with the coach and you’re not the star athlete or the up and coming star. Maybe it’s possible that these monopolists believe themselves to be super stars, however, unlike sports – they don’t have the performance metric to help them keep it real. That’s what the meeting hosts and facilitators are for.
There you have it. Topic of the week in summary, you want to be known, but you do not want to be known as the person who drains the life out of the meeting or the host that permit bad behavior. And, as always, please feel free to ask a trusted peer at work about your behavior. Be ready for the honest answer and adjust accordingly.
Very good advice Shiela thanks. I’ve experienced this on the facilitation side more than once. I’m not sure exactly what the personality trait is that drives this, but it is uncanny how this type of participant can seem blissfully aware of their own impact. I shall endeavour to be a better facilitator and practice your advice 😉
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Thanks David. Maybe we can make it one of the ground rules for facilitated sessions, just like consensus, stay in scope, avoid meeting road kill or you will be cited.
Monopolizers, side trackers, derailers!!! Oh I just love those kind of peeps in meetings -not! People get side tracked a lot. So yes, a good facilitator should definitely keep it on track and keep it to the agenda, tell them monopolizes to take it off line.
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Thanks Leslie. Can you imagine this scenario? What would Jillian Michaels have said when she was teaching the class on the SF pier, if someone kept asking her questions about workout effectiveness 🙂