Following on from “The Art of Interrupting Meetings”: Part 1, here are some more tips for interrupting a meeting the right way.
Enter the room respectfully and with confidence
Always tap on the door first (if closed), pause (count to three: 1 – 2 – 3), and then enter the room confidently, with your back toward the door. Close the door behind you still with your back towards the door, so you are always facing forwards. This may need to be practiced, but can be done – no one wants to see the back of you(!), and by using your body language correctly, you command presence, respect and attention by the way you enter and by remaining front on. Then, you stand confidently by the door, or in your boss’ eye line, until there is an appropriate pause in conversation to speak. Bosses who are used to their PA interrupting a meeting will often acknowledge you as you walk in, so they will, in effect, pave the way for you to announce why you’ve entered the room.
Address the person leading the meeting
You should then always address the Chair of the meeting (normally your boss, if you are going into his office) and say something along the lines of: ‘Excuse me Richard, but I just want to remind you about your next meeting – you need to be leaving in 10 minutes’; or ‘Excuse me Richard, but I have an urgent telephone call for you…’; or ‘I am sorry to interrupt Richard, but…’.
Keep your opening line short and to the point, and remember whatever you say will be heard by everyone else. So, don’t say in front of everyone ‘Your wife has called and asked what you want for tea and she wants to know now!” (an exaggeration I know, but it has happened!). The point is that sometimes you need to temper your message so the boss knows what you mean but no one else does.
Pass on your message, and after a response from the recipient, which may simply be a nod of the head or a smile, say “Thank you Richard”, and leave the room quietly; preferably again without turning your back to the door.
Good luck and take care!
Adam Fidler is one of Europe’s top Executive Personal Assistants, past PA to Blue chip CEO’s, Chairmen & Directors and PR Officer for “The European Management Assistants Association.”