How to stop ‘talking the job in’

Jane Sheffield
Lead Trainer & Owner
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Are you guilty of talking the job in?

Years ago, I had client in Dubai who loved a good meeting. She called meetings for updates, meetings for catch ups, sometimes even meetings for planning more meetings.

This drove my boss crazy. She was frustrated (and rightly so) by the amount of time and travel involved in having to attend these meetings – which often ended in no clear action steps. My boss referred to these meetings as merely excuses to ‘talk the job in’, as opposed to getting anything done. 

The issue was not down to my client’s lack of communication skills. She was a fantastic communicator and had no issue speaking to her audience. The issue was with her planning and content and, therefore, her inability to make her meetings and presentations valuable to her audience. 

This is an issue that comes up repeatedly in my ‘Speak Like a Leader’ workshops.  Many of my clients feel frustrated with their company culture of calling multiple meetings. Or have an uneasiness with being put in the situation of having to talk to a group of disinterested people. 

And fair enough. No one wants their time wasted – we are all time-poor these days. So when we ask someone to listen to us, surely we owe it to them to make that time count? 

I find a key driver to this issue is people’s approach to planning presentations, talks, and meetings. I often see people establishing what they want to talk about – with no thought for why they want to talk about it. 

And I get that. Understanding the what is much easier than figuring out the why. But easy doesn’t always equal most effective, unfortunately.

A good discipline to help your talks, meetings, and presentations be more valuable is to determine both the WHY and the WHAT. 

And how do you this? By answering this simple question:  What do I want my audience to know or do?  

Ahh.  Immediately you will note that this can’t be answered with any kind of vague statement such as, “provide a general update”. Nope, and that is the point.  The question is so valuable because it forces us to really think about the objective. The purpose, the why. 

So, for your next presentation, talk, or team meeting – rather than asking yourself, “what do I want to talk about”, ask: “What do I want my audience to know or do”? The answer to that question will prevent you from ‘talking the job in’, and help get some actual work done.

Stop presenting. Starting talking.


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