Are you being interrupted frequently? Does it happen in many of your meetings? Being interrupted is not fun, and it can make you feel insignificant and like your words have no meaning. But this doesn’t have to be. You can learn the techniques to keep from being interrupted.
If you’re only being interrupted once in a blue moon, when it does happen, you’re probably dealing with a chronic interrupter. But if it’s a frequent occurrence for you, there are techniques you can use to get people to hang onto your every word.
How to stop being interrupted & get them to hang onto every word.
- Use a full voice that people can hear easily. One that is magnetic & commands attention.
- Speak from the listeners’ perspective.
- Bullet your concepts. Record yourself and write down the gist. All meat, no potatoes.
- Be concise. Eliminate excessive words (like prefaces) & redundancies.
- Make sure they understand your message by using pauses.
- Reduce your words by half–take less time to deliver your message.
- Be direct.
That’s the nutshell. We’re going to delve deeper: I’m going to teach you how to stop being interrupted at meetings at home with your partner or family, any place you find yourself being interrupted.
There's a lot of bad advice to stop interruptions out there.
Some egregious advice I found on the internet:
“When someone interrupts you, just laugh loudly… then you’ll want to say something like, ‘I find it hilarious how badly you’ve misunderstood the issues,’ or ‘The way you refuse to let me speak just cracks me up.'”
This advice suggests a ridiculously childish and mean way to behave. Laughing out loud at someone and then telling them how much they misunderstand the information will do nothing to improve your standing with anyone.
Another piece of advice was to play a game of “chicken” where you & your interrupter keep talking louder and louder, and the person who doesn’t stop wins. Can you imagine such a piece of advice? And this was from a well-known global magazine.
If I were in a meeting where two people kept screaming over each other, I’d put them in time out.
I won’t tell you who gave this advice because I’m not here to make others feel bad. And these are just a tiny sample of the same terrible advice that’s out there. There are pages and pages of Google listings for dealing with interrupters, and each one gives worse advice than the next!
Instead of interrupting you, they'll be silently magnetized.
If you’re in meetings and you’re being interrupted frequently, it means you’re not holding people’s attention. Getting people to understand and enjoy your ideas is a skill you need to practice to continue up your career ladder.
We all know people with executive presence, who are mesmerizing when they speak. They never get interrupted.
You’d much prefer to have people be magnetized and moved by your spoken ideas, right? Rather than interrupt you? You’d rather have them love listening to you so much they come to you for ideas. This is possible, but not without learning the techniques and putting them into practice.
The added benefit is that this is how you become highly influential. What do we need to influence others to do? To believe us credible, to follow our call to action. And to hire us for the job and do what we say! 🙂
Here's what to do when you're being interrupted frequently.
Let’s dive deeper into the techniques to really help you knock’em dead as you speak.
Use a full voice that people can hear easily.
People with full, resonant voices get people to listen to them and follow their call to action effortlessly. Do you want people to love listening to you and follow your call to action? That’s the opposite of being interrupted. And it’s our goal whenever we open our mouths.
It’s not genetics that you have the voice you have. Your voice is negatively impacted by stress and tension.
Record yourself and listen back. Was your voice small & tight? Don’t worry and don’t feel badly. It’s easy to learn to use a full, magnetic voice.
Speak from the listeners’ perspective.
Articulating your thoughts into words is challenging when you don’t know the steps. Remember thinking your ideas is very different from speaking them aloud. There’s another process entirely. They don’t teach the techniques in school, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t know them. Do take the time to learn to speak from the listener’s perspective and practice it in real-time.
Bullet your concepts. Record yourself and write down only the gist of what you’re trying to say.
Bullet your concepts. Be concise.
Have you noticed: people who have others’ attention effortlessly are always concise? They speak with pauses and you’re mesmerized. How do they do it? They weren’t born that way, I assure you. They understood the importance of being credible, they learned the techniques necessary and they put them into practice.
You can do the same.
First, record yourself and write down only the gist of what you’re trying to say. Eliminate excessive words, filler words & redundancies. There’s no need for prefaces.
For example, don’t say, “Good morning everybody. Thank you all for coming to, um, this morning’s meeting. Ok, umm, so today, what I want to talk about, in this meeting, is ummm, the results of our analysis of the XYZ project…”
Not kidding. You can laugh but listen to the openings of your next meeting. And then everyone who speaks after. This is happening left and right in meetings.
(I record 40-50 clients a week rehearsing what they say in meetings and every one of them starts with that many words–there’s no shame if you didn’t study and practice speaking skills for a living!)
In our example, we just wasted at least 20 seconds telling people what time of day it is and that they are in a meeting. The folks imagining they’re on a beach somewhere would rather not be reminded they’re in this boring meeting.
Get to the point! Everyone is stressed, they’ve got a lot going on, don’t play “Guess what we’re going to talk about today”–tell them!
Better: “Nice to see you all. Let’s discuss XYZ. John, tell us your results.”
If you have a warm smile and a warm voice it’ll be received very well.
Use pauses between your phrases and short sentences.
This sounds counterintuitive, right? You think, “if I just keep going and don’t stop no one can interrupt me.”
But if you don’t stop after your important concepts, people won’t be able to process your information. They cannot understand your message. At all.
If you’re overly wordy and you never pause so people can understand, they are required to interrupt you!
When you’re direct, you’re showing your love for people. Once again, it comes down to your voice. Remove the physiological tension in your throat, use a lot of air for speech and make sure you don’t use upspeak, and people will feel your warmth.
Society's reaction to interruptions.
They’ve done studies about the supreme court and how women are more interrupted by men. Instead of looking at why this is happening (not being clear, having a voice that’s hard to understand, etc.), they have designed a solution. They’re giving women a handicap in the supreme court.
There are egregious interrupters out there. When someone is constantly interrupting people they need to be called out by the leader or the group as a whole.
People need to improve themselves in this area if they want to get ahead. Being the victim is never a good strategy.
Meetings are often high-stakes situations, and we know our performance declines during high-stakes scenarios. We have to make a point to improve our ability to get our point across.
We're going in the wrong direction.
Instead of asking for a handicap, improve your communication skills. Do we want to live in a world where people are allowed, even encouraged, not to make sense? We’re not dealing with the problem! The problem is that people aren’t getting their message across in a crystal clear, exciting, and persuasive way.
Make sure people can understand your message by reducing your long-windedness and stop overexplaining. If you have a tiny, tight voice, learn to open it up. Don’t you want people to enjoy listening to you?
Once you learn to do these techniques, people will react differently to you. It’ll be noticeable! They’ll sit in silence as you speak and you’ll notice the lack of interruptions! And then they’ll follow your call to action. You, your family, your firm, and your colleagues deserve this.
If you're being interrupted very frequently, don't get angry.
We need to continue to improve ourselves in many areas of our lives. If you notice that you’re being interrupted a lot, it makes sense to look inwardly. How are my communication skills?
Perhaps stop after a minute of speaking in a meeting and ask if you’re being clear. If they’re your underlings they may not be honest.
All of that bad advice out there seems to be written by people who are angry about being interrupted. They might be oblivious to the fact that they aren’t communicating at the top of their game.
No one is a perfect communicator! Interrupters and interuptees alike! There’s always more we can do to be incredible communicators. You can bury your head in the sand and fight people who interrupt you, or you can make yourself a magnet of knowledge in your wheelhouse!