I am a team leader and I have several members, most of the time when I have something to discuss to my members they tend to speak while I'm speaking and because of that our discussion becomes long.


Me: I notice that there is a bug on the previous function that .....

Him: Oh, I notice that too and it seems appropriate to fix that ASAP.

Me: Yes, but we need to add it to the bug database first and ...

Him: Oh, one more thing I notice that ... etc.

The point is that, instead of talking to so many issues at once I want to encourage my members to just listen first and deal with the problems one at a time.

I've already tell them that we should discuss things one by one but I can't see any improvement at all.

Edit: Those conversation are just small talk or a discussion that should be quick but oftentimes it leads to longer conversations because of that attitude.

Edit: I am much more interested in answers on dealing a one on one conversion so this question seems not a duplicate.

  • 3
    Not a dupe, but good advice workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/43358/…
    – Jane S
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 8:07
  • Most of the time it happens during a one on one conversation, but there are times although seldom that it happens in a meeting, I am much interested on how to deal during a one on one conversation Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 13:01
  • If all else fails, this is one of the things Roberts Rules can patch, by requiring that speakers be recognized by the Chair before speaking.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 21:44
  • 1
    Not a duplicate of How to equalize the opportunity to speak during meetings. Read before voting people.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 18:36
  • It should be noted that this is one of the problems Roberts Rules was explicitly designed to manage -- if folks want to talk to the room they're supposed to ask the chair who will queue up these requests and authorized one at a time, telling the others to be quiet if they're interfering. I often run meetings using an informal version of this, deciding when control is needed and when folks can be allowed to constructively interrupt; I reserve the right to go to the formal rules if folks are misbehaving but rarely have to do more than remind them. This does require the group accept a moderator
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 14:01

4 Answers 4


You're the team lead, just cut in to the conversation and ask for one to make his point politely.

Usually if I'm running a meeting I call out whoever I want to speak and don't let anyone interrupt. It's as simple as saying.

"Hang on a minute guys, let John finish, you'll all get your chance."

Then when he's finished ask if anyone else has input on the subject and give them their due attention.

  • 1
    Basically this, but since the OP mentioned that these should be quick conversations the others probably shouldn't get a chance. Instead they should bring up whatever they want to discuss separately through whatever channels the OP prefers (mail, weekly status meeting, etc.).
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 18:32

Type down an agenda for the meeting; it'll take more time invested in meeting preparation but if you give out an agenda of how the meeting will unfold you're already promoting order and letting them know what the order of the topics will be. At the end of your meeting you could have a "Last thoughts/remarks" for an open discussion moment. Also you can tell your team that while going through the agenda and discussing the corresponding topic only one member can talk at a time and then at the end you can have a 2 or 3 min open discussion about the topic.

You could do this too: Pick a member of your team to express his ideas/concerns, whoever it is, he is the first, and then just go to the one on his right. You can always pick someone different, this will also encourage your members to have their mind set and ready to go a couple of minutes before the meeting, since they don't know who will go first.


You need a conch shell.

Team members take turns speaking, sometimes passing along a token to indicate the current person allowed to speak

The small talk is revealing that your team is eager to speak about some of these issues. Embrace it, it's a great thing--harness that energy. If you're not using agile development already, you can start an informal process. Early every morning, ask everyone to state what they did yesterday, where they got stuck (if at all), and what they intend on doing today. Call everyone in turn, and bring the conversation patiently back to the person you've given the floor. It is part of the normal stand up meeting in the agile to enforce that

[t]eam members take turns speaking, sometimes passing along a token to indicate the current person allowed to speak

if you can, move to a formal agile meeting process. If done right and adapted to your team, it will capture that energy in the ad-hoc conversations and move it directly into code improvements.

  • I was trying to come up with a good Lord of the Flies joke to put in here, but got distracted, and you beat me to it. Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 3:49
  • 1
    I've attended meetings which employed this sort of tool in the past, and I found it to be to be quite demeaning. Further, it externalizes self restraint, meaning there will be no improvement during more informal conversations. I won't downvote because the tactic does work, but I feel it is quite far from the best approach.
    – Ben Burns
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 10:23
  • More succinctly, this is a problem which is best fixed with coaching, not with process.
    – Ben Burns
    Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 10:58

You need to cut the speaker off and let them know that if they would let you finish, their question/concern may get addressed. Another technique is to stop them and let them know this isn't a debate or a discussion, you just need to convey some information at the moment and that there will be a time/place to make these points.

I know this may sound rude, but when someone keeps cutting you off and you have a job to do, you can't keep letting them get away with this. You're probably working with intelligent people who are paid to make suggestions (hopefully in their areas of expertise) and you want to encourage this, but that doesn't mean they get to do it when it suits them and constantly interrupt you.

If this doesn't work, you need to pull this person into a private meeting and explain the problem and how it is making communication difficult. Rarely is there anything in a job description that is conducive to making your supervisor's job more difficult than necessary.

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