How to Prevent Loudmouths from Monopolizing a Meeting

Have you ever sat in a conference room and noticed there’s always one person who’s always chattering away no matter what the subject? There’s always one, right? They monopolize the meeting and it feels like nothing gets accomplished. Hmmmph.

Well, according to a piece in The Wall Street Journal, they may sound like they know what they’re saying but in actuality, they aren’t any more of an expert just because they’re loud.

A new study from the University of Utah and Idaho State University revealed that departments taking time to identify experts instead of just accepting loudmouths as experts perform better in problem-solving tasks. 

Bryan L. Bonner, lead author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business told the newspaper, “We’d hope that facts would be the currency of influence. But often, we guess at who’s the expert–and we’re wrong.”It sounds like people assess one’s expertise on outside factors like the speaker’s confidence level, extroversion, race or gender instead of sizing them up based on actual content itself. Bonner indicated this can be a significant error if the group doesn’t listen to the person who has the most relevant knowledge. The correlation between the speaker’s confidence and his or her expertise isn’t exactly linked.

So, how can we handle such loudmouths in a meeting? The piece suggests instead of jumping into a discussion in the conference room, meeting organizers should frame the “meeting as a fact-gathering mission.”

Encourage all participants to speak and one person may keep a list of facts. He added, “If you’re listening to the confident people and they’re right—great.” Although a confident person may be right so, too may be an introvert on the team.