Tackling Common Meeting Challenges

Thanks to everyone who got in touch following last week’s ‘Boost Your Meeting Confidence’ email asking if I’d share specific tips on how to deal with various meeting challenges from being talked over or interrupted (a hot favourite!), to how to get the agenda back on course when someone derails it.

I’ve created this guide to share the skills needed to confidently navigate some of the most common meeting challenges. Let’s dive in!

Being Interrupted

If a peer interrupts you in a meeting, it’s important to handle the situation with assertiveness and politeness.

Maintain eye contact, raise your index finger on one hand, or lean forward to signal that you’re not finished and use a firm, courteous voice to say, “One moment, Ash, I’d like to finish my point.” This helps you regain control and establishes your presence in the room.

If interruptions persist, try saying, "Ash, I value your insights, but I'd like to finish my point before we discuss further." This places importance on your contribution and frames the conversation as a collaborative exchange rather than a confrontation.

Being Talked Over

Over-talkers can overshadow and intimidate others, making it challenging to contribute.

One option is to confidently continue talking. If that doesn’t work, wait until the interrupter pauses and use that pause as your opportunity to speak up, "Adding to what James said..." or "I have a different perspective..." are your ways in. Be prepared with succinct, impactful statements to ensure your voice is heard when the floor is yours.

If the person continues to talk over you, appeal to the meeting's leader and say: "I believe [Topic] is on our agenda today, and I have some key insights to share on this." This tactfully implies the need for your input without confrontation.

Contributing to Fast-Paced Discussions

In fast-moving discussions, timing is everything.

To get your point across, you need to be concise and articulate. Practice distilling your ideas into powerful one-liners that can be delivered quickly.

Use affirmative nods or note-taking to bide time as you wait for the right moment to chime in.

Another tactic is to align with a previous speaker to enter the conversation, such as, "I'd like to build on Nina’s point with..." which creates a natural segue for your contribution.

When a meeting veers off course, it can waste valuable time.

If you notice the conversation drifting, gently steer it back: "To return to our main topic..." or "Let's refocus on our agenda item..." This not only showcases your leadership skills but also your commitment to the meeting's objectives.

Alternatively, propose a dedicated session for the new topic (if it's valuable): "This seems like an important issue worthy of separate discussion. Should we schedule a dedicated meeting for this later?"

Responding to Criticism or Challenge

Criticism is inevitable, but it's how you respond that defines your professional resolve. When faced with criticism, listen fully before responding. Try the "Feel, Felt, Found" technique: "I understand how you feel. Others have felt the same way. What we've found is..." This method acknowledges the criticism and redirects the conversation to a constructive resolution.

Alternatively, if the criticism is unfounded, politely correct any inaccuracies: "I see things slightly differently. Here are the facts as I understand them...".

Key Takeaway

Mastering meeting dynamics goes beyond the words you choose—it's about asserting your presence and timing your contributions for maximum impact. Adopt these strategies to ensure you're not only heard but also that you make an impact and your input drives meaningful action.

Thanks for reading! If you have any topics you’d love me to write about just hit reply and let me know, I love hearing from you.

Until next time,

Kaley ✨

PS. If you’ve found this helpful, please consider sharing it with anyone who you think may also find it useful. My mission is to support as many leaders as possible to navigate their professional challenges and achieve their ambitions🔥

Join the conversation

or to participate.