07 Sep 2016

Handling Interruptions

You will know that the best of ideas carry the challenge of persuading others of their undoubted efficacy.

In addition, it is necessary to overcome the natural resistance of people to new concepts and change in general.

When dealing with colleagues or clients one-on-one, you may have time to develop the argument.

When presenting to a group of managers, clients, colleagues and/or suppliers there are additional pressures.

  • You will be under time pressure
  • Your audience does not understand the proposition
  • Your ideas are out of step with current groupthink
  • There may be power-posturing by members of your audience
  • Individuals may feel threatened by proposed changes
  • You may not be liked and your ideas suffer for this
  • All of the above, at once!

These are considerable challenges to overcome in and require skill at several levels:


  • Invest in significantly better preparation to free you from your notes and allow you to concentrate on the audience
  • Win the minds of your audience – use open questions to match the challenges of your audience, for example:
    • “You may ask; what will be the impact on the organisation structure?”
    • “You may be wondering; why have we not addressed this previously?”
  • Prepare a strong conclusion with a sense of purpose to enable you to retain your line through the argument when interrupted (use the ‘reverse’ order of preparation found on page 2.1 of your Governing Change course workbook)


  • Win your audience first and the argument second
  • Use the acknowledgement of their ideas and situations to bind their thinking with your ideas, for example:
    • “Yes, as you have realised this will present significant challenges”
    • “Yes you raise very important considerations, and your expertise will be needed to overcome these challenges”
  • Be generous towards any interruption and any member of the audience who has the courage to contribute

Finally: Your skill in handling the audience may be the most convincing factor in the meeting

To understand more about this refer to your Mitchell Phoenix manual or book onto the 2016 series of Governing Change.