In principle, the most efficient group discussions are focused on a precise question and the most efficient individual comments answer the question.
When group members are unsure what they are supposed to be talking about they are apt to ramble about anything and are apt to spend group time advancing individual interests.
When group members answer a question by sharing lots of information that they think the group might want to hear or by showing others how knowledgeable they are, it can be hugely inefficient. When I have a question, I want only the answer. If I want more information, I’ll ask another question.
Practical Tip: If you are leading a group discussion state a precise question to frame the discussion. If you want a broad range of answers, ask an open-ended question. If you want focused answers, ask a focused question.
If you are asked a question provide on-target answers, or listen with interest to others.
When I answer a question with maximum brevity I serve the group well. On the other hand when I answer a question with maximum information or to convey my own importance, I might advance my own interests but at the expense of group interests.
– Craig Freshley