English for Meetings: Interruptions

Disagreeing is not the only tricky part of a meeting.  Interruptions are also difficult to manage as is the flow of the meeting.  In this section of English for meetings, you will learn how to keep the communication flowing. 

Stopping interruptions

When someone interrupts another participant in your meeting, you might need to step in and take control so that the meeting  doesn’t lose the speaker’s input & ideas.  Below are a few handy expressions that tell the interrupter to be polite and wait.  The first few expressions are the most polite, while the last are the most direct.

  • I think it is important that everybody contributes.
  • One moment, perhaps we can allow him to finish.
  • I wonder if we can give her the opportunity to finish.
  • Let her finish her point.
  • Hold on, can we let her finish.
  • Hang on, let him finish.

Finishing your point

It can be especially frustrating if you are the one being interrupted,  but luckily there are English expressions that are ideal for that situation too. Just remember to keep your cool.

  • I haven’t finished what I was saying.
  • No wait a moment, I haven’t finished.
  • Can I just finish what I was saying?
  • Let me finish my thought
  • As I was saying…
  • As I was trying to say …

English for Meetings: Interrupting

In general, interrupting is a no-no, but sometimes you need to step in to redirect the discussion, correct a mistake, or give information that is needed at that point.  If you absolutely need to interrupt, you can be more polite by using one of these expressions to start.

  • Sorry, can I interrupt?
  • Can I just say something here?
  • I apologise for interrupting, but you should be aware that…..

Dealing with dominant people

Some meeting participants are tougher to keep in line than others.  For participants that regularly cross the line, try one of these:

  • Thanks for your contribution, but we need consensus on this.
  • I’d like to hear what other people think.
  • Thank you for your comments. We’ll take them into consideration.
  • Remember our meeting rules, let’s keep our opinions objective.
  • Let’s try to keep the opinions objective.
  • You obviously feel strongly about this. Can you explain why?

Moving to the next point/item

In those moments where you need to keep the meeting moving forward, these expressions can help you follow the agenda, stay on point, and finish on time:

  • Right, I think we’ve covered this item on the agenda.
  • The next thing to discuss is …
  • Are we finished with this item?
  • Let’s move onto the next item on the agenda

Example Dialogue:

Joanna:Taking this data into account, we can reasonably expect sales to….
Henry:Sorry, can I interrupt?  Have you considered the changing consumer habits?
Chairperson:Henry, I wonder if we can give her the opportunity to finish.
Henry:I apologise.  Joanna, please continue
Joanna:Thank you.  As I was saying, sales next year could increase by 15% according to this data

Check out the other units in the English for Meetings Workshop. In each section you will find standard English phrases that you can mix, match and adapt to your specific content.

Want to learn more? Download the entire series in one convenient eBook for free!

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