Thanks for the confirmation: I've considered this approach to tangents, run-ons, and lengthy discussions in both professional and non-professional meetings I've attended. I've had a difficult time convincing myself to implement the practice, because of the invasiveness of a "DING" in the middle of someone speaking. I appreciate the confirmation that others have thought of (and are using) the same method to gently remind others that there is an agenda to be moved through. Now, I think I'm going to get a sand timer and explain the concept at the beginning of the meeting. I may be a Pollyanna, but I tend to believe that people externally process and go into a "time-less" void when they are exploring their thoughts. (Ie. they don't know how long they're talking...) A sand timer will provide a visual reminder as well.
Oh, and I should say this includes moi as well...
Note: These are meetings where I facilitate, not dictate, and I have a hard time interrupting people who want to speak at length. (Blame the Southern upbringing for that...)
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