(1) The clearer the prompt, the easier it is for people to be succinct in responding.
(2) Make an agreement to time yourselves
(3) If someone goes over by a lot and what they say seems repetitive or off-topic, the facilitator can interrupt them and steer them back.
If people are repeating themselves, often they do so because they don’t have a sense of having been understood. In that case, it is very effective if the facilitator summarizes that person’s contribution and checks whether that was what they were trying to say. Oftentimes, people are relieved to hear that they were understood already. Or correcting the summary might help them sharpen what they were saying. If people are off-topic, this is most effective when it’s done with an energy of “we want to hear what you have to say but it might be better at a different point”. You can write down their concern or idea onto the backlog to make sure their contribution doesn’t fall through the cracks just because it was brought up at a moment that wasn’t appropriate for it.
For more information, check out our handbook Many Voices One Song chapter 5