Do you ever feel your meetings have gone off track?
You’re in a meeting to talk about one thing, but someone is talking about something completely different, someone else is discussing an unimportant point, and others are debating something completely irrelevant – the whole meeting has gone off track! When this happens, it’s hard to get back on track and return to your meeting agenda. In international meetings with foreign colleagues, this can be much harder as you don’t want to seem rude or too forceful about sticking to the schedule. You could watch the clock and give warnings when people are talking too much or are going over their allotted time, but again this could be misinterpreted as impolite and bad-mannered.
To avoid damaging delicate business relationships, here are some common ways and phrases for getting the meeting back on track in a professional an polite manner.
Be the moderator
- Sorry, but we’re getting off topic and need to move back to …
- Let’s return to the main point of today’s meeting.
- We seem to be talking outside of the scope of the meeting.
Consider the value of the current discussion
- Do we need to add this topic to the agenda?
- Maybe we can get back on topic and postpone this to later?
- Is everyone happy if we discuss this later?
Focus on the schedule / time
- We’re running short on time, so can we move back to…
- I’m afraid we’re running out of time.
- I’m afraid I can only give you another minute.
Talk about briefness
- Please keep to the point everyone.
- Please make your comments brief.
- Please keep your remarks short.
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