How do accomplished facilitators keep someone from dominating a meeting?

It’s important to put the word “dominating” in context.

A large number of meetings could be considered dominated by an individual subject matter expert whose express purpose is to dominate the session. The manager would be interfering to squelch the SME, quite possibly to the detriment of the participants.

For all other cases, when a dominating personality is involved, unless its the very first time the team is meeting, that person should be generally known to the team and the manager. If the typical domination (repetitive behavior is to be expected) is not helpful and does not move the purpose of the meeting forward, the manager should be proactive and preempt the behavior before it occurs.

Addressing communication issues, particularly those involving personal behavior are best handled privately. Public “calling out” or chastising someone for their behavior, while immediate and sometimes gratifying, often causes more damage than the short term benefit it delivers. The old adage “praise in public; criticize in private” is applicable here.

On the other hand, in the case when the domination is actually productive but some members of the team feel they are not being heard or understood, then it is the manager’s responsibility to moderate the proceedings to make sure all voices are heard. This refocuses the issue on fairness to the group rather than individual behavior. But this case also exposes a deficit in the team communication protocol. The group should have enough confidence and security (a safe environment) to take care of disruptive or problematic behavior on their own.