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Bogomil Shopov - Бого
Bogomil Shopov - Бого

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Fix IT: One person always speaks in meetings but does not say anything that could interest you.

I am looking outside the window. The sun is shining in Prague, but It's cold. I have a meeting with a mentee, and we discuss a problem like an epidemic - it happens worldwide and affects you badly.

I can share a few details from that conversation and what plan we have drawn together to fix that.

The problem

As Technical Program Managers, we have a holistic view of the system. At some point, you are conversing with a team member, and they need to be made aware of a significant change or a high-priority task due soon. They claim they have no idea where this is coming from or why they should care. But you know. The CEO communicated it at that critical meeting last Thursday!

Let's draw and analyze.

Being a Technical Program Manager always helps get an additional perspective into most problems. Let's apply some basic knowledge here on the class design that usually goes with object-oriented programming. You'll see that the diagram needs to be corrected; it's just for visualization purposes.

a basic class diagram showing 2 classes speaker and a listener

We have a speaker who belongs to our company and has incredible experience who would like to talk to many (1..*) listeners with their qualities and spread a message.

Let's go



Raise your virtual hand 🙋 if you are in a meeting where one person always speaks but does not say anything that could interest you.

If you are in a larger group, that could be fine because the speaker might need to address different audience segments, and something could interest you further. If this repeats and you feel that most people are always lost, or it happens in smaller meetings, you must do something.

People are frustrated by one-way communication and believe this wastes time. If you keep letting your teams be demoralized and spend time in wasteful activities, this will end up with people losing trust in specific nodes of your organization. Trust is the foundation of success, so you should carefully monitor for these symptoms.

How do you think I could fix it?

I am a big believer of the positive intent. No one would like to waste an or more of your time in a work-related environment.

Let's focus on a few observations and ideas for improving the three main parts - the speaker, the listener, and the medium - and prepare a fix for our bug. 🐛

The speaker

The message was not received even after it was broadcast. What could we do to fix the emitter of the message?

  • Gather feedback from the audience on how they feel after such a talk. You better do it in person or on a trusted private channel.
  • In some cultures, you will receive candid and direct feedback that you need to filter to make it actionable and to remove the *** words from it. Oh, it happens!
  • Do a basic math - if 50% of your teams tell you this is wasted time, you can calculate how much money you lost in a meeting and use this as an argument.
  • Form a hypothesis on how the speaker could change their communication style.
  • Please handle the seniority of the orator carefully. You could review your proposal with your peers, manager, or mentor.
  • Remember - you want to remove your team's frustration and help this person improve their work. In the majority of the cases, it's a win-win situation.

The listener

The message was not received even after it was broadcast. What do you think we could do to fix the receiver of the message?

  1. In long meetings, we tend to multi-task and move our attention elsewhere. Let's make the meeting shorter.
  2. Is the time of the talk outside my attention time? Can we move the meeting where I am most active and not at the end of the day?
  3. What is the action item for me? Can we make the meeting more focused on problem-solving instead of a general blah-blah?
  4. Could we do async meetings? I want to read the material before the event and then focus on the right part of the agenda. Ah, where is the agenda?

The medium

The message was not received even after it was broadcast. What do you think we could do to fix the message?

  • One problem I immediately see in the diagram is that it's a one-way process. Someone(1) speaks and many(1..*) listen. Communication should be a two-way process. As a TPM, I could fix that by ensuring there is at least time for a dialogue.
  • Is that Broom or McTeams software we use as a suitable medium? How do we measure its efficiency? Can we try an async or decentralized approach?

Share your thoughts

Has this happened to you? How did you fix it? What mistake did we make in our plan?

Heavy Metal

Working together with others is crucial for a TPM. Thinking about people first is one of the skills that makes you an excellent program manager.

As Kreator says:

If night will fall, Black shadows are taking our sight, We carry each other through the darkest moments in life. Stronger than hate, stronger than fear, stronger than all

Why keep reading this?

I am a people-centric Technical Program Manager. I created a different newsletter that you could subscribe to for free:

  1. It shows real-life examples from my career, which differs from the general TPM profile.
  2. It cuts the general knowledge topic you could discover in blogs and newsletters created by much better TPMs.
  3. It shows the new things I learn almost every week.
  4. It contains inspiration from the Heavy Metal music domain.
  5. It examines topics like Mental Health, insecurity, the creativity lock, and more, which are part of the TPM world, but only a few colleagues are open to discussing this.
  6. I am also reachable on various channels and love helping people. Some of them allowed me to share the problems they had and what I advised them.

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Top comments (6)

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Yo! This is an interesting post, Bogomil.

Just a heads up, that it looks like little bit of your post did not carry over from the original here — the "Share Your Thoughts" and "Heavy Metal" section (which I particularly dug 🤘)... regardless, I enjoyed this read.

I really like the guidance and questions for consideration you wrote out for the speaker, the listener, and the medium. So many problems stem back to poor, inflexible communication... the advice you shared here is really good for tightening comms up and making sure everybody is actively listening and participating. Great advice!

bogomil profile image
Bogomil Shopov - Бого

Thanks, Michael. I'll fix the text immediately :)

bogomil profile image
Bogomil Shopov - Бого

I think it's complete now :)

bogomil profile image
Bogomil Shopov - Бого

I wonder how many of my 1100 follower will actually see this :_)

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Ya rock Bogomil! Also, loving the embed for the Kreator tune. 🎸

bogomil profile image
Bogomil Shopov - Бого

The heavy metal can inspire us for many thing :)