How to Make a Meeting Efficient – The Talking Stick

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A lot of meetings are very inefficient, for many reasons.
One reason is that everyone wants to shine, be heard and make their point, this causes them to not listen to their colleagues and constantly interrupt each other.

Often you see people, who as it turns out, have the same opinion fight about it and disagree for 30 minutes before they both angrily agree to disagree but want to do the same things…

Enter the talking stick
The talking stick is a great tool that forces people to listen.
When you have listened and understood your colleague you may ask for the talking stick and say what you think.

The rules
1. Only the one holding the talking stick may speak.
2. The others seek to understand, they may ask you to restate your point to clarify to make sure they understand but they never judge or argue until they have the talking stick.
3. When the one speaking feels that he or she is fully understood they pass the stick. It is important that they feel understood, if they don’t they keep the stick and try to make everyone understand what they mean.

This forces your colleagues to listen and then rephrase back what you mean before they start replying with their own ideas. That way everyone will know what the others mean and can evaluate it.

I have seen this tool used effectively many times.

In the beginning you will often find some resistance, people don’t want to listen; they think it will make the meeting take a longer time. But once it because a habit the talking stick makes sure that everyone gets heard, that everyone feels understood and that you can tap the minds of all in the room to make sure you make the best decisions.

It also saves a lot of time that is otherwise waster arguing when the people arguing are really on the same side.

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Photo Credit: HerryLawford


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  3. Bad Talking The Competition
  4. How to Become Efficient by Using the 80/20 Rule
  5. How to Handle Conflicts
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4 Responses to How to Make a Meeting Efficient – The Talking Stick

  1. pea says:

    Good idea for all the reasons stated. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, the jostling to be seen to be saying the right thing rather than making sure you are really listening and contributing. Yes it will slow down a meeting, but a speedy useless one is not a better option.

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey Pea,

      You summed it up great.
      Listening is a more effective way of moving a meeting forward, which is better than quick.

      Thanks for contributing!

  2. Hi Daniel,
    It’s a great idea to use a talking stick! I taught my kids how to do this when they were small as an aspect of the game “Consensus” they played. With the talking stick and the one rule I set up for them ( listen well enough that you could ask a question) they were able to settle the huge childhood dispute of what game they were going to play! I like this idea coming into business as well. (I put it in my book too!)

    • Daniel M. Wood says:

      Hey Lori,

      I love the fact that you teach your children this game!
      It proves that we are never to old to play childrens games ;)

      You had this in your book?! That is great!
      I got to read it, it is on my wishlist.

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