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Master The Art Of Refocusing Meetings

Phrases for Productive and Engaging Meetings

Ever zoned out in a meeting, wondering what the point even is? You're not alone. Unfocused meetings are a common workplace struggle. 

The good news: you can be the person who steers the conversation back on track!

people in a meeting
people in a meeting

Experienced facilitators excel at keeping discussions focused and productive. Their secret? A two-step approach:

  1. Observe: They calmly assess the situation and acknowledge the current dynamic.
  2. Question: They ask thought-provoking questions that encourage collaboration and refocus the conversation.

Here are common meeting derailments and how to address them using this approach:

1. Tangent Town: People are getting bogged down in specifics.

  • You: "I see some interesting examples being raised. Before we dive deeper, let's make sure we all understand the core idea at hand. Can we summarize that quickly?"

2. Fear of Depth: The discussion feels shallow.

  • You: "Great points so far, but I think a deeper dive might be helpful. Is everyone comfortable exploring the details now? If not, when would be a better time?"

3. Rushing to Implementation: Everyone's jumping to solutions before understanding the problem.

  • You: "Execution is key, but let's pause for a moment. Are we all clear on why we're considering this in the first place? Having a solid foundation will help us develop a strong plan."

4. Stuck in "Why" Land: The discussion is endlessly debating the purpose.

  • You: "We've had a productive conversation about the rationale. Do we feel ready to move forward and explore the practical aspects (the "what" and "how")?"

5. The Polite Brush-Off: Someone offers a vague compliment instead of constructive feedback.

  • You: "Thanks for the positive feedback! Honest input is crucial. If you could suggest one thing to improve this idea, what would it be?"

6. The Time Excuse: An idea is dismissed due to "lack of time."

  • You: "I understand we're busy, but even a brief discussion can be valuable. Before we shelve this, can we explore if there's a way to address it in a time-efficient way?"


  • Ask questions with a neutral tone, encouraging collaboration.
  • Be respectful of others' opinions, even if they differ from yours.
  • Focus on guiding the discussion back to the meeting's goals.

By mastering these phrases, you can become a pro at keeping meetings focused and productive. No more lost trains of thought, just clear direction and real progress!

We have a number of workshops relating to this topic that might be of interest. Check out Fix Your Meetings for a complete level-up of your approach to meetings. And, if you're finding it challenging to advocate for your ideas and to get people to listen, check out Presence and Influence or our 1-on-1 coaching service.