A few weeks ago at a council community engagement forum, a gentleman stood up and made a powerful point and followed it with a snappy example. You could see a lot of heads nodding around the room.
Then he went to explain, elaborate, add, elucidate, state, repeat and reiterate his point for another five or so minutes, all without drawing a breath!
You could see the shift in the room as people started coughing, shuffling papers and tapping their feet impatiently. Luckily a break was called for coffee. The overheard comments about this speaker were most unflattering. “Loves the sound of his voice,” one person muttered. “Can never get him to shut up,” another said. This person was not a close talker, but an over-talker.
Sometimes over-talkers start off by being persuasive, but then they undo their good work by becoming boring and repetitive. Sometimes over-talkers cover up a lack of preparation or knowledge by making one point in five different ways. It’s conversational smoke and mirrors.
We all have been guilty of over-talking – I know I certainly have! So here are some red flags to watch out for:
- Holding court for more than a couple of minutes without drawing breath, allowing no one else to get a word in
- Repeating what you’ve already said, while one part of your brain is screaming ‘Stop talking now!’
- People who were bright and sparkly when you started are now distracted and listless
Not for a moment am I suggesting we should be taciturn and speak in shotgun-staccato bursts of 30 seconds at a time. Great conversations and deep connections are what make the personal and business world go around. But over-talkers lose out on these benefits unless they regularly stop to take stock. What are your thoughts on over-talkers?
Yamini Naidu is a global thought leader in storytelling and business communication. She is a director at yamininaidu.com.au, and was previously a director at One Thousand & One, a company she co-founded in 2004.