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How To Professionally Interrupt Someone In a Virtual Meeting

Updated: Apr 23

Interruptions during meetings and conversations among groups of professionals occur at various points and for different reasons. It is easier to use body language to indicate the desire to speak when meeting in person, but non-verbal cues do not translate to virtual meetings. Here are a few tips for making more professional Zoom interruptions that apply to other video conferencing platforms such as Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

Virtual Meeting Etiquette

The rules of professional etiquette for virtual meetings differ from old rules for in-person meetings. When people talk to each other in person, non-verbal signals such as hand gestures, angling the torso, or lifting the chin can indicate a desire to speak. These cues are often not as readily apparent in virtual meetings.

For this reason, using video conferencing features such as the ability to "raise your hand" in Zoom or participant notification options on other platforms can be helpful. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with virtual meeting phrases. You can say these phrases at natural transition points, most of which take the form of questions.

How To Interject Politely

The most polite way to interject in a meeting is to wait for a natural transition point. Here are a few examples of phrases that can be useful in virtual meetings:

  • "Can I pause here for a second?"

  • "Do you mind if I jump in?"

  • "Excuse me; I have something to add."

  • "I'm glad you brought that up."

  • "Is this a good time to bring up…?"

These phrases can give you an idea of how to politely interrupt someone in a virtual meeting. In general, phrasing your interjection as a question, whether about the contributions of another meeting participant or requesting the floor from a facilitator or manager, can help you come across as polite rather than rude when you need to speak.

Some virtual communication specialists also recommend the use of filler words as wedges. Verbalizations such as "ah" or "um" can get the attention of meeting attendees and are best timed when another contributor has finished articulating an idea. If more than one meeting participant speaks up simultaneously, either concede with a phrase such as "Sorry, you go first" or politely assert yourself by starting with something along the lines of "Thank you, I'll be brief."

More Tips For Speaking Up On Zoom

The best way to optimize meetings to minimize the disruptive effects of interruptions is to designate a facilitator whom participants can notify of their need to speak ahead of time or to use video conferencing notification features, such as the ability to "raise your hand." Business communications specialists recommend using facilitators for meetings with five or more participants, as interruptions can pose a problem and interfere with productivity in virtual meetings with many attendees.

Making an effort to be polite and maintain standards of professional etiquette even when you feel the need to interrupt an ongoing conversation can help professional conversations stay civil and keep meetings on schedule. Not every approach to etiquette is suitable for every workplace culture. Tailor your approach to being polite to the unique discursive conditions of your working environment and your status in the organization.

Using virtual office backgrounds is another effective way to minimize distractions and look professional on Zoom. Choose from a wide array of high-definition office backgrounds that offer the option to display a logo, display meeting participants in Immersive View scenes, or show slides in Pizazz. Virtual office backgrounds can help keep meeting participants focused on proceedings and prevent interruptions.


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