Taking Turns in Conversations


English hesitation strategies Audio Jukebox

Directing conversations

Look at these expressions for directing conversation in a formal situation, like a business meeting. Put them into three groups:
A including quiet people
B stopping interruptions
C keeping the conversation to the point


  • What’s your opinion, Sam?
  • May I continue?
  • Let me finish.
  • Shall we continue?
  • Let’s go back to the point.
  • You haven’t said anything yet, Sam.
  • Do you want to add anything here?
  • I haven’t finished my point.
  • Please allow me to finish.
  • Does anyone want to say anything before we move on?

Control strategies

Conversation is a turn-taking process and it is more difficult when there are several people in a conversation. In different cultures there are different standards for interrupting and turn-taking, however there are also a few universal points that apply to most situations.

  1. The speaker can choose the next speaker. You can stop someone dominating the conversation, and you can include quieter people.
  2. You can stop someone interrupting by avoiding eye contact with them, and continuing eye contact with your partner in the conversation. Don’t drop the volume of your speech (i.e. don’t begin to speak more quietly).
  3. If someone interrupts you, and you haven’t finished making your point, tell them clearly. You can use phrases like:

Let me finish / May I finish?
Excuse me, I haven’t finished.
Just a moment / Hang on a second.

    • When someone won’t stop talking, and you are not interested in what they are saying, you can avoid eye contact, turn away or look at something else. Do not use conversation fillers.



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