Wow! You Were Just Interrupted—Now What?

This past week I had a terrific time giving a presentation at the Chrysler Building in NYC (Hence the photo montage attached to this post—gorgeous, right?)

One of the questions I was asked was, “What do I do with someone who interrupts me in the middle of my presentation?”

Here is the script I offered her:

“I appreciate questions—and I will take questions.

That said, for the moment my request is that everyone make notes regarding their questions and hold them until the end.

This is for two reasons:

It’s possible I will address your question/concern later in my presentation

I still have quite a bit of material to cover and I want to be sure I cover it in the allotted time because I know you’re busy people and you have to move on.”

Why does this script work?

  • It begins with appreciation/reassures your audience that you are open to questions.
  • Using “my request is” keeps it from feeling confrontational as it doesn’t include “I” or “you”.
  • Including “everyone make notes” opens your comment up to the group which keeps the person who interrupted from feeling singled out.
  • It gives not one, but two reasons why you are asking for questions to be held until the end.
  • It reminds everyone else who might be feeling affronted that is for their benefit as well—you are being mindful of their time.

Now, in my dream world, you would have stated your question policy up front, “I’m going to be taking questions all the way through” or “My request is you take notes and hold questions until the end” Etc.

If, however, that went by the wayside and you find yourself on the receiving end of an interruption, I hope the above allows you to move along smoothly and graciously.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like: “But What If…? How to Handle Hypotheticals”