Owning Your Voice in the Boardroom: Tips for Handling Interruptions

Have you ever spoken up in a meeting, only to be interrupted or dismissed? If so, you’re far from alone. Research confirms women face frequent interruptions and challenges in voicing perspectives equally. These interruptions can be subtle or overt, but they can all have a silencing effect, making it difficult for women to be heard and valued. Unconscious biases, stereotypes, and outright disruptions leave many women professionals struggling to put forward their ideas with the clarity and confidence they deserve.

Studies show women receive 12% more questions in meetings than men, with many inquiries being patronizing or hostile in nature. Additionally, data suggests that men continue to dominate both the conversations and decision-making in settings ranging from corporate offices to school boards.

The good news is that you can equip yourself with strategies to command attention, navigate interruptions gracefully, and ensure your voice is heard. Here are five techniques to help you own your space and amplify your impact in meetings:

Enter the Room with Intention

Walk into every meeting with confidence and purpose. Make deliberate choices before even taking your seat – from your posture, to seating selection, to your tone of voice. Small adjustments like sitting up attentively, choosing a visible place at the table, and speaking clearly with purpose help show you are fully present and ready to contribute to the discussion. By being deliberate about your verbal and nonverbal cues, you can demonstrate confidence and focus on working constructively with your team.

Eliminate Diminishing Language

Instead of softening your statements with phrases like “I may be off base,” or “I might be wrong but”, own your perspective with confidence. Qualifiers can unintentionally weaken your message and distract from your expertise. Express your ideas clearly and directly to ensure they land with impact.

Deploy Tactics to Counter Interruptions

Despite preparation, interruptions still happen. When they occur, navigate them with grace and authority. Don’t fidget or apologize; instead, use body language to your advantage. A subtle, confident hand gesture can subtly reclaim the floor while repeating the interrupter’s name refocuses attention. Acknowledge their input briefly, then smoothly transition back to your central point. Remember, composure is key: deflect interruptions without surrendering your platform completely.

Close with Command

Leave a lasting impression by crafting a commanding closing. Briefly reiterate your key points, offering a concise and decisive summary. Don’t simply repeat yourself; instead, conclude with a memorable message that leaves your audience feeling empowered and informed. Make your voice resonate by closing with the same power and eloquence you brought from the start.

Stay Confident

Remember, mastering your voice and building strong connections are journeys, not destinations. While these tips offer a solid foundation, there’s always more to explore. If you’re a woman leader hungry to amplify your impact in meetings and forge deeper workplace connections, check out our program, “Increase Your Impact in Meetings: Speak & Lead with Confidence”.