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Advanced Leadership Communication: Manage the Rambler

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Command the room by being an exceptional facilitator.

Advanced Leadership Communication is the art of effectively communicating complex ideas, strategies, and visions to diverse audiences in a way that inspires, motivates, and influences action. It requires a deep understanding of not just the communication tools available but also the needs and expectations of the stakeholders involved. Leaders who master the art of Advanced Leadership Communication can build stronger relationships, create a shared sense of purpose, and drive transformative change in their organizations.

by Stephanie Bickel

leadership communication | leadership and communication | effective leadership communication strategies  | leadership communication examples | leadership communication | communication skills for leaders

How to intervene when things go wrong.

Let’s assume you’ve done all the preventative tools:

1. Sent agenda in advance

2. Spoke to the ramblers upfront about the goals of the meeting

3. Set norms, outcomes, and scope of the meeting with all participants

4. Limited the size of the audience to keep it manageable

5. Assigned a colleague to help you manage a known disrupter

6. Consolidated the known objections or hot buttons into concise orderly buckets for you to represent to the room upfront vs. allowing those most upset to share.

Yet, someone is still going off-topic, negative, or taking too much airtime.

You can either guide them with questions or give them clear instructions. Decide how direct you need to be at this point.

The first time a person speaks for more than 2 minutes, interrupt them with a question. Help establish a cadence and tempo that we want to hear many voices and keep responses and ideas to ~90 seconds.

Great phrases:

1. I am hearing a lot about alignment on this topic. Before we move on to <next topic>,

is there anything further we need to discuss on x? pause and then move on

2. There have been obstacles. Wouldn’t you agree that we have made some progress?

3. Betsy thinks this idea won’t fly. What do the rest of you think?

4. Mike, you’re absolutely right. Is it ok if we hold that topic for after lunch?

5. We will go into any level of detail on that topic when we get to Q&A. Is that ok?

6. Let’s pause for a moment here and acknowledge the time. We have 30 minutes left

and three more topics. (Look at the decision maker or a person you want to talk)

Should we stay on this topic or move on to <insert topic>?

7. Caution the group. The goal of this part of the meeting is to hear all the options,

and we are starting to grab onto a position. Let’s move off of this point for a moment

Neil and we can return after we feel we have grabbed all the options.

8. Carol is very passionate about this topic. Thank you for being so open and candid.

Let’s hear from a few others and then work on synthesizing some options to ponder.

How about you, Mike? What thoughts do you have?

9. We’ve just had two strong ideas emerge. Let’s pause and acknowledge the great

thing that just happened. This is a safe place to share different viewpoints and it is

encouraged. Does anyone see a third idea? Let’s grab another idea or two before we

dig into these.

10. Mike, thank you for sharing that. As I was listening, I couldn’t help worrying that people

in this room may feel bad about the project. Is it fair to say that you know everyone was

doing their best with the resources and knowledge available at that time, and that

there is no group to be blamed in this?

Great facilitation tools:

1. Use Your Eyes: Look at a person you want to talk to. Don’t look at the ramblers.

2. Use People’s Names: Call on the quiet people. Steer discussion with names. Help the

rambler(s) feel heard by using their names.

3. Match & Lead: Agree with a portion of what the negative person says before shifting

to a question or ask for other opinions

4. Give equal weight to positive and negative views. If people are only being positive,

others will be afraid to share concerns. If people are only being negative, the meeting

can turn into complaints, and everyone feeling defeated. Look for ways to keep the

meeting balanced.

5. Be open: Remind people that we value all ideas in the room and have a learning



Great leaders and speakers start with Speak by Design. Learn the techniques and build the skills with us. Speak by Design University is the only leadership communication program in the world that gives you access to self-paced learning, group coaching and training and, most importantly, private one-on-one coaching. Learn more and register.


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