How A Speaker Can Stop Interruptions While They Are Speaking

Could everyone just be quiet while we are speaking?
Could everyone just be quiet while we are speaking?

Image Credit: Kyle LeBoeuf

It’s tough work giving a speech. The one thing that we really don’t want to have happen when we are delivering our speech is to be interrupted. However, when we are giving a speech in a small setting or perhaps when we are giving an informal speech, there is the very real possibility that we are going to encounter a serial yakker who doesn’t understand the importance of public speaking and who just can’t shut up. How should a speaker handle a situation like this?

Don’t Allow Yourself To Be Dominated

If you think about it, the person who is trying to interrupt you is trying very hard to get you to be quiet so that they can do the talking. What you are going to want to make sure that does not happen is that you allow someone who is interrupting you to take over your speech. You need to realize that they probably have their own agenda. What they want to talk about may not be what you want to talk about. If you aren’t careful, they’ll be able to steer the conversation away from what you had intended to cover.

When you are faced with a person who wants to interrupt your speech, you’ve got a lot of different options on how you can handle the situation. Although I would suspect that most of us would like to tell the person to shut up and sit down, that is probably not going to be the best course of action. Instead, what we can do is appeal to the person who set the meeting up in the first place and who asked us to speak. They need to step in and get the person to leave you alone. If for whatever reason that does not seem to work, keep in mind that you still have another option – you can always leave.

How To Get The Questioner To Be Quiet

Most of the speeches that we give will come with a Q&A period at the end. This can be fertile territory for someone who wants to interrupt us. They will lie in wait until the questions start and then they will pounce. What they’ll do is get the floor and then they will start to ask you a never ending stream of questions.

As a speaker, you need to ready to deal with this situation. As in all such cases there are many different ways that you can handle this kind of interruption. One of the most effective is to tell the person who is hogging all of your question time that you simply don’t have an answer for the most recent question that they’ve asked you; however, you’d be more than willing to meet with them after you are done. The good news here is that most of the time they’ll never come to meet with you.

Be Confident And Decisive

What we need to do is to take the time to understand why someone is trying to interrupt us when we are trying to speak. What is going on is that they are trying to dominate us. We need to gage the degree to which someone is trying to interrupt us and if they are being too aggressive, then we may have to handle the situation both immediately and decisively.

How can you prevent this problem from showing up in the first place? There are many different things that you can do. One such thing is to speak with confidence. Your confidence will shut down anyone who is thinking about interrupting you. Sometimes people will interrupt you because they view you as being long winded – they want you to get to the point. Keep your thoughts short and you’ll prevent this from happening. Finally, make sure that you don’t talk too fast. Sometimes when we are fast talkers, we’ll invite interruptions simply because people in our audience want us to slow down so that they can understand what we are saying.

What All Of This Means For You

Both you and I know that getting up the courage to stand in front of an audience that you may not know very well takes a lot of courage. When we find ourselves in this situation we want everything to go well so that we can share the benefits of public speaking. However, sometimes there is that one person in the audience who just won’t shut up and keeps talking even as we are speaking. What’s a speaker to do?

The first thing that you need to understand is that the person who is speaking at the same time as you is trying to dominate you. They want to change the agenda to be their agenda. You need to prevent this from happening by appealing to the person who set up the meeting to take control. If the person doing the interrupting is trying to take over your Q&A session, then you need to tell them that you don’t know the answer to their question in order to get them to stop asking questions. When you are speaking, in order to avoid getting interrupted in the first place, speak with confidence and don’t speak so fast that people will want to interrupt you to slow you down.

We can control a number of different things during our next speech. However, we can’t anticipate that someone in our audience will try to take over our speaking time. If this happens to you, you need to make sure that they are not successful. Take the time to make sure that you have a defensive technique to make sure that you can push back anyone to tries to take over your speech. It’s your time and you should be allowed to talk!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should talk with the meeting organizer before you start to speak in order to prepare them if someone tries to interrupt you?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations! You understand the importance of public speaking and so you’ve been asked to give a speech. Oh, wait. Just exactly what are you going to be talking about? Who will you be talking to? Where is all of this going to be taking place? Clearly there are a number of different questions that you need to be asking before you show up to give your next presentation. Do you know what you don’t know?

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