In any meeting setting, you’re bound to encounter a diverse array of personalities. There’s the Eternal Optimist, always seeing the silver lining no matter the challenges; the Meeting Dominator, who monopolizes the conversation, often sidelining others; and the Silent Observer, absorbing all information but speaking sparingly. While we delve deeper into managing distinct personalities in another blog, it’s crucial to highlight that the Meeting Dominator can be particularly disruptive, emerging as a leading cause of ineffective meetings.
A meeting dominator is an individual who overly controls or dominates a conversation, often sidelining the contributions of others. This can manifest in various ways:
Their presence can make meetings less effective and even intimidating for others.
Managing dominators is both an art and a science. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, a combination of pre-planned strategies and in-the-moment responses can create a balanced meeting environment.
Designing Your Meeting for Balance
The first step to keeping dominators in check is through careful meeting design. We have a whole article dedicated to facilitation techniques that increase engagement, however start off by incorporating these strategies in your next meeting:
To avoid over-dominance, it’s crucial to set meeting norms or guidelines. Setting effective meeting norms help the group define and agree to a list of actions that will guide or regulate behavior. When there is the potential for an intimidating subject matter expert or senior level participant to dominate, head them off before diving into the content:
Even with norms in place, there might still be moments when a dominator pushes boundaries. Immediate action is required the minute you realize that doing nothing will make matters worse. Remember, though, the goal is to increase group participation, not to shut down the dominator. Here’s what you can do:
Have you used a successful technique in the past to handle meeting dominators? We’d love to hear about it!
Do you have a unique meeting challenge not covered by one of our blog posts? We’re always looking for different dilemmas to discuss in our articles!