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Getting A Conversation Back On Track – The Essentials

Updated: Jan 12, 2019


SCENARIO - The meeting you are running is on schedule and going well. All of the attendees are aware of the purpose of the meeting and the amount of time it should take. You’re feeling great. Then, out of the blue, the owner takes the conversation in an entirely new direction. The points he is making are valid but not relevant to the meeting agenda.


So how do you respectfully get the meeting back on track?


DO NOT

  • Embarrass the person by insinuating their ideas/comments are irrelevant or foolish.

  • Cut them off abruptly, even if time is running out.


DO

  • Let the person finish their thought and thank them for their input.

  • Acknowledge the value of their input and remind them the group is on a tight time frame.

  • Suggest the topic would be a good agenda item for another meeting and invite them to the meeting.

  • Adjust and proceed with the rest of the agenda.


POSSIBLE PHRASES FOR GETTING BACK ON TRACK

  • “Thanks for making those points, John. That is something we definitely need to talk about. But since we’re on a tight time frame today, do you mind if we wrap up our discussion about ______? I’d like to add your topic to the agenda for our next meeting.”

  • “John, I’d really like to talk to you further about that. Do you think we could pick it up after this meeting so we can cover the rest of our agenda first and let the others get back to their day?”

  • “Great points! And because they’re all important we need to give them ample time for consideration. Is it OK if we put the topic on the agenda for our next meeting?”


THE TAKE-AWAY - Acknowledge, Affirm, Adjust

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