Girls interrupted

Enhancing communication skills and addressing being interrupted

Courtesy of Daria Shevtosa

Communication is a fundamental skill to have in the workplace. 

In fact, a 2022 CNBC article states that communication is the number one soft skill desired by employers with over 6.1 million jobs listing the skill.

An essential ability of a good communicator, and a woman, is knowing how to address interruptions in academic and professional contexts.

Constant interruptions can be a disheartening experience for many women. It may even impact their presentation abilities and discourage some from contributing to discussions.

Below are tips to enhance your presentation and discussion skills and the best ways to address interruptions. 


You will likely have to do a presentation at some point in your academic journey. While presentations can be daunting, they’re a great way to connect with your peers and demonstrate your knowledge.

Make sure to devote time to practicing your presentation. However, try not to memorize your speech in its entirety. Memorizing a presentation word-for-word can sometimes cause you to fall off track if you get nervous. Rather, study the concepts behind your talking points so it is easier to re-focus if you become nervous or if you are interrupted. 

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It’s also important to include nonverbal communication, such as making eye contact with your audience. Another helpful tip is to avoid placing yourself behind a podium, as this disconnects you from your audience.

If oral presentations make you uncomfortable, reach out to your instructor for alternatives. One potential option could be to pre-record your presentation. This method allows you to share your work but lessens the pressure of speaking in front of a large audience. You could also make PowerPoint slides and other visuals to help communicate your insights. 

Classroom discussions

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Participating in classroom discussions can be a rewarding experience, as you and your classmates get the oppourtuntiy to share unique perspectives.

To contribute to a discussion, it’s fundamental that you read the assigned material. It can be helpful to make notes and annotations as you read to keep track of your thoughts. 

Also, look out for ideas or concepts that you do not understand. Your classmates may be able to provide clarification or could be feeling confused as well.

Sometimes it can be hard to get involved in a class discussion. 

One useful tip can be to say something early on, as it can become harder the longer you wait. Waiting can also lead to someone else making the point you intended to bring up, which can leave you scrambling to come up with another comment. 

Another strategy is to direct your comments to the group, which will prevent you from getting into individual debates. It’s always best to contribute to developing an encouraging and inclusive space, as this will allow everyone to shine. 

Navigating being interrupted

Courtesy of Ben Moreland

Being interrupted is a frustrating and sometimes demeaning experience. When someone interrupts you, it can feel las if they believe what they have to say is more important. 

No one should feel like their ideas or opinions matter less than someone else’s. This is why it’s important to address interruptions professionally and firmly to ensure they don’t continue. 

When dealing with someone who frequently interrupts, it may be best to address it before you start talking. For example, before presenting, provide a breakdown of moments you believe would be optimal for questions or comments.

If this approach does not work, it may be time to communicate your concerns directly. Instead of confronting the person immediately after the interruption, choose a time when you both feel calm and level-headed. This will allow the best chance for them to understand how their interruptions impact you. Sometimes we don’t realize how much influence our actions have, and discussing this could be an eye-opening experience.

Inform your instructor of your feelings in situations when these tactics have failed, and the interruptions are persisting. The instructor can reinforce that everyone needs to wait their turn before speaking. This will strengthen the quality of discussions because it allows everyone to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. 

Working on your communication skills in the classroom improves your ability to perform as a student. Through navigating difficult interruptions or learning how to present your ideas, you make sure your voice is heard. 

Whether in the classroom or everyday life, your opinions and thoughts are valid and just as important as those of the person next to you.

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