Have you ever tried to get your point across and smack dab in the middle of your thought, someone cuts you off and finishes your sentence? Interruptions are common and most of us have experienced them. It can be frustrating when you feel like your colleagues, or even friends, don’t pay attention to you and often dismiss your ideas.
Some key verbal and non-verbal techniques will help you to be heard and increase your confidence to speak up.
As you experiment with these tips, you can increase the likelihood that others will listen to and respect what you have to say.
Let’s explore ways to keep a conversation going, but first we need to understand why you are being plagued with interruption.
Why do people interrupt others?
If you are being interrupted, you may appear insecure and long winded.
If your voice is soft, your posture unstable and your stories repetitive, listeners disengage and find it hard to form a connection. Being long winded sets you up for interruption as people want you to get to the point. In some cases, people may think they are coming to your rescue because you seem unprepared. In other cases, it can be a sign of enthusiasm as the other person is captivated by what you are saying and demonstrates so by completing your sentences.
Sometimes, interrupting doesn’t have anything to do with you.
People can interrupt others to make a point, gain attention and get an upper hand in the conversation. They may feel that their own opinion is more important than the speaker’s. Their interruption can be a sign of impatience and disrespect. Or it may be that they just lack social skills or are unaware of their behavior. Whatever the reason is, it can be annoying and distracting. It’s important to get the conversation back on track. Try not to be offended. Be confident, give a slight smile and use the phrase, “As I was saying…”
Conversation etiquette suggests that each person takes turns to speak and that everyone should be given a chance to express their opinion.
Speech coaching helps to improve your communication skills, and make you less likely to be interrupted.
5 Reasons why you could be getting interrupted
You are long winded.
You lack confidence.
You use a soft spoken voice.
You pause too long at the end of sentences.
Your body language appears insecure and self-conscious.
How to Stop Sounding Boring?
Some people are interrupted because they are just too….boring. If you speak in a monotone or a soft voice, you lose the ability to engage and inspire others. People stop paying attention and become bored. They begin to start new conversations and talk over you.
It’s important to refine your vocal delivery. Varying pace and volume throughout the conversation helps so you don’t sound robotic and emotionless. Inflection engages the listener, as your voice moves up and down to illustrate your message. Pauses give emphasis to certain points and can make the conversation more engaging. Relevant humor, stories and anecdotes help make you relatable.
How Can I Sound More Inspiring?
People interrupt when they aren’t inspired. The difference between a mediocre speaker and an inspiring one often comes down to their vocal delivery and body language. It’s more than just looking confident; it’s also about speaking with assertiveness and having the courage to express your opinions.
Being passionate and expressive can help to make your words more inspiring. As you speak, speed up and slow down your words and increase and decrease your volume to stress your point. Look around the room and make sure that everyone feels like they’re part of the conversation.
If you are a smaller person, work to incorporate some gestures to make you appear larger to literally take up more space. This can help to keep your listener engaged and entertained.
People are less likely to interrupt and instead become inspired. Your vocal tone and delivery should match the emotion of what you’re saying, to ensure that your message resonates with people.
5 ways to stop from being interrupted
1. Keep it Simple Sweetheart
To prove a point it’s helpful to share stories. The challenge is keeping your story short and simple to hold the listener’s attention. For example when persuading someone, WHY YOU MUST VISIT YELLOWSTONE, instead of going off on various tangents like, sharing the many different colors of the sky, the way the wind felt as it blew across your face, and the exact number of bison that may cross their path…get to the point.
Details are important, but sometimes what you value as relevant is different from what the listener finds relevant. People interrupt because they have already mentally moved on.
Combat this by keeping your storytelling concise.
For example: Yellowstone is fabulous! Here are a few reasons why you should go:
Yellowstone gives you a first hand look at American History
Yellowstone sits on the world’s largest super volcano
You can observe animals in their natural habitat
The sunsets are incomparable.
The details can be shared as people want to hear more. Now, someone can ask, “How many bison did you see?” You get the point.
Being prepared and knowing what to expect will help you to feel more confident when speaking in public. Research as much as you can on your topic and know key points so you can handle any question that comes your way. When you are prepared it helps build confidence and you sound informed and authoritative.
3. Strengthen your voice:
One of the best ways to stop being interrupted is through your vocal tone and delivery. A soft tone or high pitch can be hard to hear, causing you to appear timid and less credible. People respond to leaders that they believe in. Your voice should demonstrate that you’re in charge of the discussion. A strong, projected voice helps to ensure people pay attention. Low, deep breaths will ground your voice and keep your body calm. It also shows control, as you take ownership of the conversation.
Speech coaching helps you to understand vocal tone, pitch, rhythm, pacing
and inflection so you can use your voice as a tool.
4. Pause in the middle of sentences:
A pause at the end of a sentence can act as an invitation for someone to add their thoughts and opinions. It can give the impression you are finished, as you may inflect your
voice down. In contrast, when you pause in the MIDDLE of a sentence it creates suspense, as your thought is suspended in the air and the listener waits for you to finish. This allows you to continue on to the next sentence without interruption and emphasizes your point.
Statistics shows: Words account for 7% of a successful interaction. 93% is made up of 38% tonality
and 55% body language.
5. Improve your body language:
Your body language will either work in contrast or in tandem with your message. Making sure you appear confident is the first step in controlling others' perception of you. Try video recording yourself as you practice delivering your message to spot bad habits. Are you awkward with your hands? Do you constantly step back (a sign of retreat)? Being self-aware places you on the pathway to correction.
Planting your feet firmly, standing with a strong, tall posture is the first step. Relaxing shoulders down and back with your chin slightly raised is next. Direct eye contact and a smile show you are friendly and ready to deliver. All of this helps you achieve a more confident and authoritative appearance.
10 Strategies to Stop Getting Interrupted
Once you’ve developed your communication and leadership skills, put them into practice.
Know your intention before you begin and decide how you want to be perceived.
Design a clear, concise message.
Welcome your listeners with a smile and gain their attention with a strong, projected voice.
Take the lead in the conversation by setting a clear idea for what will be discussed.
Keep eye contact to build connection and presence.
Enunciate so people understand each word of what you’re saying.
Avoid long sentences or industry only related words which may confuse and bore listeners.
Vary your vocal tone, pitch, rhythm, volume and inflection to make what you say interesting. Picture your voice moving “up and out”.
Pause in between words, as opposed to the end of each sentence to create impact and avoid interruption.
Maintain strong eye contact with the person you are speaking to. Doing so will show them that you expect to be taken seriously and have their full attention.
In the case you are interrupted, handle the situation with calm and ease. Subtle cues such as a raised eyebrow or nod of the head helps remind the interrupter that you were in the middle of speaking and have not finished your sentence. Respectfully ask them to let you continue from where you left off before addressing their point.
Take a moment to pause, breathe and focus if you feel yourself starting to lose confidence. People don’t mind the mental break and it keeps their attention. This time allows you to regain your composure and continue with the conversation.
Interruptions can be frustrating but effective communication skills will be rewarding.
Interruptions can be frustrating and have the potential to derail conversations. Preventing them from occurring in the first place is often the best approach. Rely on curiosity as a reaction when someone interrupts you and jump back into the conversation now knowing several techniques to keep the words flowing.
If someone interrupts you, use subtle cues and firm verbal statements to remind people that you were speaking. Doing so will help stop future interruptions and ensure that conversations remain on track.
By developing your communication and leadership skills with a speech coach, you can create a more powerful voice and dynamic presence to keep your audience engaged and inspired. Your speaking skills will command more respect in conversations, have everyone paying attention and ensure your next interaction is interruption free!