I am going to interrupt here

If you are the leader of a project or the manager of a team and you are looking for a good phrase to help you keep a business meeting on track, try “I am going to interrupt here”.

As a business speaker, I realize that time is one of the most precious commodities any of us have. People who attend my sessions make me feel really good when they tell me that they found my keynote speech or my training session to be well worth the time spent. When wrapping up a meeting, I am always pleased to hear someone say “good meeting” or “that wasn’t a waste of time”.  I hear a lot of complaints from many people about meetings. Meetings drag on. Meetings get derailed by someone who is feeling talkative. Meetings stray from their purpose because someone who is going off on a tangent. If you are the business leader at this meeting, it is your job to keep the meeting on track. It is your job to highlight a valuable point and pursue it. It is your job to stop someone when they have made a good point to keep them from talking too long. It is your job to stop someone if they are about to stray off track. A meeting is not the time to let someone talk on and on. A business meeting is not the time to let people develop ideas and go off on related paths. These activities are for brainstorming sessions and for open-ended discussions. A business meeting has a theme; it has a specific topic and it has specific goals.

The polite thing to do in a business meeting is to ruthlessly keep the meeting on track, so there are clear outcomes and action items. Keep the meeting on track and a two hour meeting can be done in half an hour. Keep a meeting on track and a half day session can be done in an hour and a half.

Simply say “I am going to interrupt here” and then get the meeting back on track. Take a good point and tie it up. Re-start the discussion on the point of topic. Get control of the flow. You can qualify your remark with something like, “This is a great idea for a brainstorming session. Develop some parameters and get a few people together to develop that idea at another time”, or “That is a topic for another discussion. Send me an email recap of the idea later and we will discuss it at another time.”