A huge part of the value of using well-crafted strategic thinking exercises is they increase thinking, ideas, and active participation from a broader range of people than might otherwise happen.

Yet, a common question attendees at our workshops ask is how, in a group setting, to keep big talkers from dominating conversations as you are trying to use strategic thinking exercises or simply trying to facilitate a strategic conversation?

My first answer is to give any dominating, big talkers the wrong room and time so they miss the strategic discussion.

While I am kidding about that, it IS a possibility, if you are really daring.


3 Ideas for Keeping Big Talkers from Dominating Strategic Thinking Exercises

Here are three more reasonable ideas for how to deal with big talkers who could easily dominate the discussion during a strategy meeting:

1. Employ a few strategic thinking exercises BEFORE getting everyone together in a meeting.

Solicit input, compile the answers, and report the entire group’s thinking. In that way, the range of perspectives gets on the table.

2.Use more strategic thinking exercises where people work individually before sharing answers.

In a meeting, having people work individually before sharing ideas in groups keeps big talkers from getting in the way of others forming and documenting THEIR ideas.

3. Take advantage of small groups within a meeting.

You can reduce the negative impact of big talkers in this way by keeping them all together in a small group (so they don’t get in the way of others). Another variation on this approach is simply minimizing how many people rotate through small groups with the big talkers.

When do these ideas work best?

All three of these ideas are ways to avoid having to call out big talkers directly and shut them down. I favor these because big talkers can have great ideas, and you don’t want to take them out of the mix simply because they’ll talk about their ideas a lot.

But if you have big talkers who talk all the time without adding value, you may have to take bolder steps.

Which takes me back to the wrong room and wrong time idea! – Mike Brown

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