• Collaboration

How To Stop People From Interrupting Your Meetings

You’ve got everything ready. You’ve confirmed the logistics. You’ve done your research. Your points are compelling. Your slides are sharp. Your presentation flows logically with just the right level of detail.

It’s the perfect meeting. The perfect summary. The perfect case. The perfect pitch.

Or it was, until one of your attendees cut you off mid-sentence and railroaded the whole thing. Suddenly now you’ve skipped ahead 7 slides, made one-third of your pitch without first sharing the rationale, and somehow taken on 2 new assignments — and you’re still not back on track with your original presentation.

Meetings have a bad reputation in most organizations. They’re often unproductive and, at worst, they can be a waste of time.

To help set things right, a raft of efficiency experts have recommended strategies for managing meetings to make them more valuable. Today we’re told to set an agenda and stick to it, to cap attendees at no more than 5 (or 6, or 7, or 8, or 9, depending which expert you trust), to cut off the meeting after 30 minutes (some recommendations contend it should be as little as 10!), and to limit yourself to addressing one objective per meeting.

But even if you do everything right — it can all go wrong in a heartbeat the minute one person decides to interrupt.

Many teams have attempted to put a gag on interrupters with hardline techniques, mandating that no one, no matter how senior or how well-versed in the subject at hand, speaks out of turn. But the difficulty with such measures is that they misunderstand the problem — in most organizations, people don’t interrupt to be rude; when they interject, it’s because they are legitimately interested and have relevant thoughts, comments, and questions that they’ve not seen addressed yet in your presentation.

So how can you get past the human inclination to speak up when engaged?

The answer may be easier than you think. Just change your meeting format.

Make Your Presentation Before You Even Start The Meeting — Flipped Meetings 101

Innovative companies like Amazon and LinkedIn are pioneering a new way. Theirs is a new style of meeting that prioritizes action over presentation, engagement over attendance, and actual information over pretty PowerPoint slides.

Best of all, it’s a new format that any organization can adopt overnight—all it requires is a simple, fundamental change in two of the expectations we have for our meetings.

First: this new style mandates that the presenter share their presentation before the meeting begins, and that the audience likewise review it ahead of time.

Second: this new style insists that rather than creating lists of things to do later, everyone attending the meeting must use that time to execute on the objective of the meeting.

Whether the goal is to make a decision, outline a plan, revise a workflow or anything else, the team must use the scheduled meeting time to actually achieve those goals – then and there.

What’s the value? In a word, action.


A sample flipped meeting presentation video that can be shared with an audience before the meeting itself takes place


Reviewing presentation materials in advance ensures attendees will have time to earnestly consider the subject. Assumptions can be double checked. Subject matter experts can be brought to comment. Alternatives can be imagined. Healthy debate can ensue. And audience members can’t interrupt while the presenter is making their case.

Here’s how the flipped meeting works:

  1. Ahead of your meeting, record a quick rundown of your meeting information and the action items needed.
  2. Share that recording with your meeting attendees a day or so before the scheduled session.
  3. When attendees gather for the meeting, skip the deck and get right to the discussion: Q and A, brainstorming, decision making — whatever input gathering method best fits the situation.


Related Reading: Business Meeting Expectations are Changing. Are You Changing Your Meetings?


Get The Guide To Flipping Your Meetings

Turn Your Meeting On Its Head - Guide To Flipped Meetings with VideoThe way we do meetings today is broken. Meetings at most organizations are PowerPoint-driven lectures, structured to offer little opportunity to get real work done and real decisions made.

But there is an alternative. Our flipped meeting how-to handbook includes a guide to developing a flipped meeting culture in your organization, including:

  • Pre-meeting communication and information sharing needs
  • In-meeting group management best practices
  • Ideas for using video to make flipped meetings even more efficient

Flipping your meetings can help you win back time wasted in meetings, ensure that every meeting you attend is productive, and empower your teams to collaboratively make smarter, timelier decisions.

Ready to get more out of your meetings? Download our free guide, Turn Your Meeting On Its Head: A guide to flipped meetings today.