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These words quickly signal that a speaker needs to click the unmute button. But the phrase — often uttered by multiple people at once — has become notoriously grating. It also makes the person on the receiving end of the comment feel silly.
A gentler, alternative, “If you’re speaking, I can’t hear you.” Instead of making the silent speaker feel silly, this reframing shows them that you truly want to hear what it is they have to say.
Many of us have heard this metaphor in many a meeting. But what is the speaker actually saying about the initiative being described? Is it flying at so quick a speed that we can’t be expected to understand or question its flaws? Is this turn of phrase an excuse for haphazard execution?
Perhaps we can be more specific by identifying the pieces of the project that we’ve figured out, what we’re still working on, what we don’t know yet, and how we plan to make adjustments based on what we learn.
Without a clear, quick mention of how and when this “offline” conversation will take place, this is a jargony way to dismiss someone’s idea and put them off indefinitely.
And since any meaningful follow-up will likely take place online, it also no longer makes sense. Why not go with something like this: “That’s an important topic that’s beyond the scope of this meeting. I’ll email you when we wrap up.”
If meetings are well-structured, well-run, and surprisingly concise, we should celebrate the fruits of our collaboration and look forward to our next gathering.
The next time you find yourself tempted to offer your teammates a few precious “minutes of their life back,” consider saying, “Wow. Because everyone was so productive, we’re done 10 minutes early. Thank you so much for your presence and participation. Have a great day.” This simple rephrasing has the power to reframe your work.
Often among the first words uttered by an online meeting host, this practice dishonors the time of those who joined on time and does nothing to establish a culture of punctuality for meetings.
At the same time, there are legitimate reasons why an individual may be late to a Zoom meeting (or an in-person one).
To make the most of those inevitable few minutes when you’re waiting for stragglers, one idea is to start with brief tone-setting exercises. For example, ask everyone to write down their intention or objective for the meeting.
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