Please, Stop Talking

“You’re losing all credibility. Please, stop talking.” I couldn’t say it out loud, but that thought went through my head as I observed ‘LeAnn’, a new board director during her first board meeting. I’d read her board biography and resume, and I had researched her and her accomplishments before I sat in on my new client’s board meeting. LeAnn’s background was impressive, so I was looking forward to seeing her in action and hearing what she was going to bring to this board.

I was looking forward to seeing her in action and hearing what she was going to bring to this board.

What she brought was chaos. When LeAnn repeatedly interrupted other directors with non-relevant questions or comments, failed to comment or answer questions succinctly, or went off topic, I was stunned. By the looks on the faces of the board chair and other directors, they were stunned too. I later found out they were thinking, “How do we get her off the board?”, and I was thinking, “How did she get through the interview process?”. (I found out later, she was never interviewed. LeAnn had been highly recommended for her expertise. After a brief conversation with the board chair, he offered her a board seat and the rest, as they say, is history. They’ll never make that mistake again.)

Even though LeAnn has the right credentials and experience, her lack of self-awareness and board communications skills are stunningly poor. Instead of enhancing her credibility, too often, when she’d participate and ‘contribute’, she’d diminish her credibility. How do I know? Besides hearing from them after the meeting, I simply watched the other directors and the board chair during the meeting. They shared looks of surprise, confusion, fear, and frustration. As the meeting progressed, I noticed a few of the directors rolling their eyes when LeAnn spoke, several started taking notes (OK, I’m pretty sure they were simply doodling, Please Stop Talking!), and fewer of them added to her comments. Towards the end of the meeting, when LeAnn would speak, the conversation and momentum would just die. After the meeting, the chair called me ‘to talk about the situation in the boardroom’.

I’m pretty sure they were simply doodling, Please Stop Talking!

Though she did contribute salient technical insights and perspectives, LeAnn would too often talk over or interrupt others to share mildly relevant information. The value of her expertise was repeatedly overrun by her inability to focus on the topic at hand, participate in and not dominate the conversations, and contribute in concise ways. She didn’t understand that her role as a board director is to help the full board enhance their understanding of the issues discussed so they can make informed decisions. She’s not there to provide lectures or training sessions. She’s there to contribute, collaborate, learn, share, and help the board and organization be better, as she becomes better. For LeAnn to become ‘better’, she needs to be made aware of and understand that her current communication style is hurting and not helping her credibility. She can then choose to change her behavior or not. However, until she does change, her board colleagues are no doubt going to be thinking, “Please, stop talking!”


Note: Names and the situation have been modified to address an issue experienced by several clients.


Copyright MMXXIV – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – +1.717.597.8890

Liz Weber is an advisor to boards of directors, business owners, and C-Suite leaders. She’s a leadership, strategic and succession planning consultant, speaker, and author. She helps her clients focus on the right things at the right times to get the right impact. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!


Liz Weber CMC CSP

Liz Weber CMC

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.



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