My simple process to AVOID being INTERRUPTED
A number of my mid-level, executive clients are frustrated when delivering important presentations to their Leadership Team or Board.
They’re frustrated because soon after they start speaking, a member of the Leadership team or Board often interrupts them.
This interruption interferes with their speaking flow, and then a free-flowing discussion between the leaders in the room occurs, leaving the presenter stranded and often resulting in deferring a decision on the matter at hand to a later time.
Innumerable hours of time are lost, due to these interruptions,
and it can take months before a final decision is made.
How do you prevent these interruptions, when the interrupters are senior to you and you can feel intimidated to regain attention – to continue your presentation?
Here’s one process to follow:
1.In the planning of your presentation be crystal clear on the key message(s) of the presentation. That is, what you want the Leadership Team or Board to retain and/or act upon. Good questions to ask yourself include: (‘Why am I delivering this presentation to the LT/Board? What do they need to hear? What don’t they need to hear?’).
2. Format those messages in a few bullet points or in two sentences and plan to spotlight them at the start of your presentation. Limit the opening of your presentation to less than three minutes.
3. As you enter the room, think of
S.O.D.A. This is Stop. Observe. Decide. Act.
That is, STOP for a moment or two, once you enter the room. OBSERVE the room and the people in it. DECIDE where you will sit. ACT: Move to the seat.
As well, make sure your facial expression is radiating warmth and acceptance and calm enthusiasm.
4. Sit feeling the back of the chair, with a tall posture and arms uncrossed on the table – then pause for a moment and with conviction, say:
‘Thanks for your time. I ask you to hold your questions and comments for three minutes while I deliver and flesh-out the key messages of this presentation.’
If you’ve done all of the above steps, in most cases, you will not be interrupted in the first three minutes.
Own the Conversation
Consider your next few weeks of meetings, and identify one where you’ll present to a group of senior executives, or colleagues that are senior to you.
Choose a specific meeting and schedule to implement the above process.
p.s. This powerful article on White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack made a deep, lasting impact on me. I highly recommend it. As a caucasian person, a point that surprised me, and underscored my lack of awareness of white privilege was this one: No one has ever said the following to me:
‘You’re a credit to your race’.