Have you ever led a meeting that became out of control? Maybe there were too many participants or maybe the discussion led to controversy. This has happened to me a few times and as an IT Project Manager with certain goals for these meetings, I know that it is important to regain control and stay on target.
Here are a few tips I use for regaining control if my meetings go awry.
- Take advantage of a silent break. If things are getting out of hand, you still do not want to interrupt the participants (unless of course a heated debate is breaking out). The best thing to do is to wait for someone to finish their thought; when they do take that small break as your sign to jump in. This way you can sway the conversation in your own direction.
- Move on to the next agenda item. Once you can break into the conversation, move directly to the next item on your agenda. Even if the previous topic needs more discussion; you can always go back to it. This will give everyone more time to think about that previous item and use the (probably) welcomed distraction from you to move forward to the next topic.
- Table the discussion or item until the next meeting. Offer to do more research or gather information from the participants individually after the meeting has ended. You can then gather everything together to make a better informed decision on it or see where there are holes. Then when the topic is discussed at the next meeting, you can begin with the information you have accumulated.
Whatever your position, if you have scheduled a meeting to discuss specific topics – it is your meeting. You must remain in control and move the meeting along at your pace with your objectives in mind. There are ways to accomplish this professionally and your participants will most likely be thankful that you are on top of things.
Originally published on Experts Pages on 8/31/13