We all know the situation where you are in a group meeting and one person takes it upon themselves to drag group dialogue off track. Unless you happen to accidentally be the individual that is doing the over-talking, than you know the frustration of keeping the group on order.
Keep in Mind the Person Has Feelings
Yep. There it is, the hard crushing reality that over talkers have feelings too. It’s easy to let the mind wander when you find yourself in the mist of such an individual. Scenarios of daydreaming about telling the individual to shut up can easily occur. This is why the situation has to be dealt with.
The person is clearly interfering with productivity. Just keep in mind you don’t want to belittle the person in a public fashion. There is no need. A simple, direct, and polite conversation could do much better if you feel the need to address the situation one on one. There are of course some other less direct and effective ways to help support your time efficiency.
Pass the Metaphoric Talking Stick
Clearly passing a physical object through videoconferencing is not available at the moment. You can, instead, make a conscious effort to deal out questions directly so each person gets there time on the soapbox as well. This also helps you get a really good sense of whether everyone is on the same level. Active group participation is far better than blank stares and jibber-jaws.
If it gets down to it, there isn’t anything wrong with simply announcing that the group needs to stay on topic. Sometimes after the long droning of someone that insists they need to be the center-of-attention, it’s easy to need a reminder of what the topic is. Let your audience know where the conversation needs to stay and start heading in that direction.
It’s easy to want to spend a few brief moments at the beginning being engrossed in small talk. It’s good for us all. But it has a time and a place. Once we’ve begun to get more familiar with our coworkers, audience, or whoever we are addressing, the act of getting off subject just gets more tempting. After all, now we want to connect key points to personal elements. What better time to share them than now? Not so much.
The more you personally participate in being on task the more you help raise the same participation in others. It doesn’t mean that one has to be firm and robot-like. You can still be personable, quick anecdotes have their time and place, and a slight nod in the direction of knowing the right time to use them will come to your command with practice.
Dress the Part
Not only does dressing professionally increase your own sense of pride and self-value, you project that same aura. It’s important to let others know you are taking yourself seriously. This can help increase group productivity by boosting professionalism. So many people are now video conferencing that the growing diversity is an amazing welcoming aspect of our technology. Even if you are working from home, there is a certain sense of pride that you can take from making yourself a home office space. Maybe you prefer to work comfortably from your bed. That is fine, when you aren’t in a video conference.
The space you choose should be clean and neutral. There’s nothing wrong with using a simple white sheet. Your face should most likely be the focus of using videoconferencing. Personal trinkets and family portraits may be a great way for you to decorate your desk, but they don’t really belong in the video frame for work. There may be people in the conference that aren’t as buttoned up as you, but work is work, and thus it should be approached professionally. Leave the dog out of the room and the music off. Shut the door and close the windows if you must.
Focused and Calm
Promote as much of an atmosphere of professionalism as possible and hope that the vibe spreads. Usually it does, however if you find yourself having to deal directly with the “Spotlight on Me” don’t directly shout, “Hey idiot, shut-up!”. There really is no need to be harsh. Letting this individual affect your personal experience is not OK either. Remind the group the need to stay on task, take the direct approach of staying on path yourself.
Take these steps and move forward with conversation. The more you can keep from letting the “Attention Hog” get the best of you the better off you will be. It helps to keep your mind firmly on what you want to get out of the video conference and don’t let anybody get in your way. No matter how cute their stories are, or what a funny person they can be, if it isn’t helping to achieve group productivity than it needs to go. Good luck!