Does your boss keep interrupting your presentation at work?

Maurice DeCastro
4 min readOct 14, 2023

Preparing for and delivering an effective presentation at work is a challenge for many people.

There are a number of anxieties associated with presenting at work, ranging from:

– Inexperience

– A lack of confidence

– Perfectionism

– Past experience

– A fear of being judged

– Being shy or nervous

– Imposter syndrome

The list is a long one and regardless of which it is, the very last thing most of us need, is our boss continually interrupting our presentation at work or trying to take over. It’s annoying, frustrating and embarrassing and can completely undermine our confidence.

Why do they do it?

Whilst you may feel very unsettled in your belief that your boss doesn’t trust you to say the right things or represent the business well, it’s often not the case at all. In fact, it may surprise you to know that most won’t even be aware of it. Your boss could be totally oblivious to the idea that they are interrupting or taking over.

It’s often the case that that they are simply invested in your topic and believe they are supporting you. Some can of course get carried away with their own voice.

Take comfort

If your boss keeps interrupting your presentation at work it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doubting or challenging your competence.

For some bosses, it’s a status, ego or control factor.

When that’s the case, as disruptive and upsetting as it feels, it’s worth remembering that it’s their issue and not yours.

In other words, if it’s the case that they are simply unaware, nothing will change until we tell them.

In the unlikely event that it is an issue of their trust and belief in you, that’s something you need to know and a good leader will guide you through it.

If it’s their controlling personality or ego that’s compromising your presentation at work then that of course is much trickier. If that’s the case it’s likely that they probably do the same thing with everyone and have a reputation for it.

It takes courage

Nobody wants to confront, challenge or upset their boss. The very thought of even having to discuss the matter with them, can cause a great deal of angst.

It’s a topic that often arises in our public speaking and presentation workshops and where it’s prevalent in an organization can do considerable harm.

What do you do to keep your boss quiet?

Somewhere down the line it involves a conversation.

It takes guts to speak up in some organisations, especially to your boss when you’re unhappy but nothing much will change without a conversation.

Please don’t wait until your annual performance review to raise the issue. Here are a few options to consider:

Ask for help

Tell your boss that you’d like their advice.

Tell them how much you admire their confidence, passion and fluency in presentations. Explain how you’ve noticed that quite often, when you are presenting in front of them, as they are trying to support you, that you sometimes feel a loss of control or influence which you’d really like to learn how to retain.

Ask them if they have any advice or suggestions on how you can take the lead so that they can support you more passively. Express your desire to develop your presentation skills and ask them how they can help you.

Jump straight back in

If your boss keeps interrupting your presentation at work and taking over, be patient and listen carefully. Wait for one of the following:

– A pause where you can jump straight back in.

– Something your boss says that you can expand on, add to or clarify slightly.

– An opportunity to acknowledge and thank them for their contribution and pick up where you left off.

– If they are racing ahead, say something like, ‘that’s a really good point and I have a few thoughts I can share on that in a moment, in the meantime, would you mind if we could refocus on this area.

Let it go

If it’s absolutely outside of your control and you know your relationship with your boss isn’t the strongest to allow you to do anything else, let it go.

In other words, take a few deep breaths, depersonalize the issue and let your boss speak. Breathe through your frustration and let go of any emotional charge you may feel in that moment. Ask yourself how you can support your bosses interruption and contribute to their thoughts.

Remind yourself that it’s entirely their issue and not yours. Your audience will notice, have empathy with you and respect your patience.

Prepare for the interruption

Before you deliver your presentation at work, ask your boss it they have a few moments to discuss it with you.

Tell them what you are planning to cover and achieve and ask them if there is any part of it that they may prefer to take the lead on or contribute to.

Explain that you’d like to maximise the audience’s time and attention and that you’re happy to build in time for any aspect of your presentation they would like to speak or elaborate on.

Learn from others

Make a point of discreetly finding out whether anyone else in the organization has experienced this challenge. If they have, open up a detailed conversation of how they managed it practically and emotionally.

Perhaps you’ve been through this yourself and have mastered the art of how to effectively stop your boss interrupting or taking over your presentation at work, if that’s the case then please share your tips in the comments.

If you’d like to learn how to present with greater confidence, presence and impact:

– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.

– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.

– Get yourself some excellent presentation training

Image courtesy of Canva.com

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Maurice DeCastro

Author, speaker, trainer, presenter - former corporate executive passionate about personal leadership, people and results.