I work with a few people who like to go off on long tangents and/or go deep into unnecessary detail during meetings. What are some strategies that I can use to keep these people on track and keep our meetings productive and on topic?

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    I just found this question which may be related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/9283/… – Dylan Ribb Mar 25 '14 at 5:11
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    "Take this off-line" would be the phrase in IT circles people use to stop side discussions from going into tangents. – JB King Mar 25 '14 at 5:42
  • @JoeStrazzere Not most of the time, unfortunately. – Dylan Ribb Mar 25 '14 at 15:51
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    Hey dylan, I'm voting to close this as a duplicate of the first question you reference because your question seems to mirror the same concerns as that one. If you think this is a mistake, please edit your question to clearly explain what the question is you're asking and how it differs from that one. Thanks in advance! – jmac Mar 28 '14 at 4:27
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    Hi @Rachel, we're not sure this is different enough from the linked dup to reopen it fully, but we do agree with you that this is a pretty good answer. Hence, instead of merging, we're happy to leave this simply linked, so folks searching for "get to point in meetings" will likely see this answer first. Feel free to make a case in meta/chat, to gather some more reopen voters, if you feel strongly about this. Hope this helps! – jmort253 Aug 10 '14 at 22:19

First suggestion: make sure the meeting has an agenda in the first place. If the meeting invitation doesn't specify one, you can ask the sender to clarify it.

The second suggestion is to say something when the meeting has gone off track. This one is a little more challenging because it depends on a number of factors, including the relative seniority of the participants, general cultural norms at your workplace, your own comfort confronting somebody who's veered, etc.

I'll call "time check" when the participants are either above me, or more than a level or so below me, just because it's helpful to be sensitive in such contexts.

If the participants are my peers or pretty close to it, then I'll generally say things like "we don't have to design it here", "let's take that offline", "we need to cover the rest of the agenda", etc., interrupting if I have to.

These strategies have worked pretty well for me.

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    My boss has repeatedly said that if he gets an invitation for a meeting without an agenda, he never accepts the invitation. His reasoning is that if the person who calls the meeting isn't able or willing to describe what the meeting is about, then it can't be important enough to waste time on. – Jenny D Mar 25 '14 at 7:48

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