Interviewers are always looking for ways to hurry their interviewees along, so finishing off their ideas seems to be a nice way to do this with the added advantage that you get the floor back. Why wait for the slow speaker to finish when you can do the job in half the time!


John Humphrys, Radio 4 Today programme presenter, gave a nice example of this when he interviewed Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, the other day. Johnson is known for his somewhat hesitating, sometimes ‘bumbling’ delivery and so Humphrys decided to step in and complete the idea for him.

The pair were about 8 minutes into the interview which was focusing on the recent suggestion of Russian involvement in the Salisbury poisoning. Johnson was slowly developing the argument that:

our quarrel is not with the Russian people but with Putin and the Russian government

Humphrys (JH) decided to step in at line 11 and complete the argument. While Johnson (BJ) tried to regain the floor, Humphries was quick to see that this didn’t happen thus giving him control of the floor and the chance to pose another question.

01 BJ: but I think it’s very important (.)
02     to to stress this
03     our quarrel is not with Russia
04     or with the Russian people
05     or with a Russ-
06     indeed with Russians who’ve come
07     to make their lives in this country
08     I don’t want to see a great outbreak of
09     of Russophobia  
10     as a result of of what has=
11 JH: =our argument is with
12     [Putin and his henchmen
13 BJ: [and and

14 JH: and [we have done nothing
15 BJ:     [er er that that’s exactly

16 JH: [to stop them doing what they’re doing
17 BJ: [that’s exactly right

18 JH: [is is is the point
19 BJ: [well I I I that’s that’s

20 JH: [I mean you say we have the ability
21 BJ: [well that’s not true

22 JH: under our (.) this new relatively new law
    but we’ve not actually put it into practice
    have we

External link to clip

BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, 15th March 2018