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Leaders Who Hold the Floor Too Long
Some leaders have a hard time going to sleep because they can’t wait to wake up in the morning just to hear what they have to say. They like their own words so much, they use a lot of them.
Once others expect this performance, they tune out and wait until the monologue is over. But the real problem is not how excited they are to hear their own voice, but how long they hold the floor when they speak.
Who knew someone could speak for a virtual fortnight without coming up for air? Sponge divers would be jealous.
Talk duration is a common problem for many leaders, even those not enamored with their own thinking. Holding the floor for longer than 90 seconds when speaking is a sign of committed advocacy. It is also a sign that a leader can’t make their case succinctly or get to the point quickly enough.
Long talk duration stifles dialogue and shuts down discussion. When others can’t get in and offer a competing or supporting view, the conversation becomes a one-sided speech.
Leaders with lengthy talk times send the message that what they have to say is more important than what anyone else might contribute. Those in attendance turn off and refrain from offering their own views. Even worse, when given the chance, they follow the leader’s example and speak for too long, as well.
A good rule of thumb is to never hold the floor for more than three minutes, even when explaining complex issues or making a pointed case. Three minutes is enough time to build a cathedral of thought. Holding the floor any longer is akin to running an oral marathon.
Keeping talk duration under 90 seconds is a better rule in group discussions and should apply to everyone, especially the leader. This will keep the discussion free-flowing and everyone engaged.
Leaders who treat these rules as suggestions will undoubtedly get on a roll and hold the floor too long -- even when they don’t mean to. They need to remember that this puts everyone into a deep sleep, dreaming of the day when they don’t have to listen to the leader drone on.
To paraphrase a common maxim, if a leader can’t say something succinctly, they shouldn’t say anything at all.