Posted on December 21, 2015 at 9:00 PM
The other day I was in a program, and the schedule was that a short 30 minutes presentation would be followed by an activity session on the topic presented. The speaker took to the podium and went on for about two and half hours explaining a tool. She was very passionate about the topic and was very keen that she pass on her knowledge to the audience. In her passion and involvement in the topic, she was oblivious to the passage of time, nor was she sensing the boredom in the audience, nor the diplomatic cues from people.
I thought this was a freak case, but I heard my friend recall how she was caught in an interview for about 3 1/2 hours (Yes!) - the candidate in this case went on non-stop about how he had applied lean principles in the shop floor, possibly demonstrating his passion to share his knowledge. My friend had to force stop the monologue.
This was quickly followed by another case of a speaker in an evening forum last week (fortunately this was a panel discussion, and this speaker wasn't alone), had similar stopping troubles - every time he took the mike, the other panelists had a tough time taking the topic back; and most people found his arguments straying away or downright irrelevant.
These are perhaps some of the extreme cases of stopping troubles (though not very rare cases, in my experience). The characteristics in such stopping troubles are high degree of self absorption, to lose the context of the audience and flow of time. When this happens, the content of the discussion loses its relevance and hence its potency to make an impact (irrespective of its richness).
As I reflect, I have also been caught with this syndrome. I reckon I am most prone, when I have a captive audience, and possibly my perception of the power equation in the context is significantly tilted towards me (e.g. when I go as a guest lecture to a class). If we have to prevent stopping troubles, I think creating contextual check points are essential - not just time driven checks, but based on a sensing of the situation at hand.