Have you ever left a small group meeting frustrated because you could not share much? If so, it’s probably because you have someone that a “dominate talker.” They are usually first to answer the question and the answer never seems to stop. They always have something more to say as you slowly zone out. And here’s the thing, they may not even be aware that they are doing this.
So what can you do to help that dominate talker become a better listener? Here are 5 effective tips that you can use this week.
1) Set Ground rules before the meeting
Before the group starts, remind every person that the small group values group participation. You set the expectation and value that every person has something valuable to share. This hopefully clues in the dominate talker. If not, you may need to remind the talker about this ground rule.
2) Arrangement of seats
Studies show that how you seat yourselves matters. Usually the person who sits next to the leader talks less in the group because they receive less eye contact. So, wait for the talker to sit down first and then have the group facilitator sit next to that person.
3) Get input from others
You may need to politely cut off the talker with phrases like “great, anyone else have any thoughts on this” or “is there anyone who has not shared yet?” This will give opportunities for others to speak and remind the talker about the ground rules.
4) Use specific questions for individuals
Instead of asking open ended questions to the group, you can ask other forms of questions (yes/ no, true/ false or multiple choice questions). This forces the dominate talker to give you a brief answer. You can then follow up the discussion by turning to someone else and asking, “What do you think Sally? Do you agree? Why?”
5) Meet with the Talker outside of the group
Invite the person for some coffee and ask them for your help. You ask them to be a co-facilitator whose job is to ask other people questions. Encourage the person to ask follow up questions and to continue the conversation. Help them be on your team and work with you.
Which one can you use this week to help your group have a more productive small group?
Let us know how it works!