Thanks Ursula, and agreed with Janice and Ria. I find your response a gem of wisdom and experience!
I found myself in a similar situation when hosting circles sometimes and I totally agree with the place (source) where this reminder comes from. So important to be present and empathic while aiming at the higher purpose of the group. I heard somewhere the expression of the facilitator having to make a "gentle use of power"- gentle in its broadest sense, power in its broadest sense...
hello and thanks for this valuable invitation - a terrific issue to share!
one thing is to invite people in each round of speaking to speak longer or shorter upfront - eg for an intro with an ongoing group it may be useful to indicate that it is welcomed to "speak clearly and to speak briefly"
it seems common for the responses to lengthen as you go around the circle, especially the larger circles - as safety is proven, people do go deeper and slower.
something I learnt recently at a circle practicum i found very useful, that is that hosting with 2 people allows you to sit at 12 & 6 on the 'clockface'. so if the host starts at 12 oclock when the talking piece gets to the 2nd person in the 6 oclock position, they can gently remind everyone of the question, and model (again) how to be brief (or longer, depending on the question).
it also works to energetically 'strengthen' the circle, and gives-allows another view of what is happening in the group dynamically.
it is good too if this second person can hold the bell (ring to pause), attend to time boundaries - sometimes this person is called the 'guardian'.
lots more on this in the Circle Way book by Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin who have spent some years remembering this indigenous, deeply human and natural world interaction in circle!
thanks for the question and the useful responses above!