How To Handle Interruptions During Your Speech

Posted in   Speeches   on  January 13, 2016  

It's a dread that many public speakers have. The interruption that comes from nowhere. Because not many of us know how to handle interruptions.

So knowing how to handle an interruption during your speech is certainly a key skill. And it's one that President Bill Clinton appears to still have. He might have been out of the White House for the best part of 16 years but his public speaking skills are as sharp as ever.

How To Handle Interruptions

How To Handle Interruptions In Your Speech Like Bill Clinton

Once again he's on the campaign trail supporting Hillary Clinton in her bid for the Democratic nomination to run for president in November this year. His first speech of the New Year in New Hampshire appeared a little weak, perhaps rambling...until you considered his role. He's playing the supporting role. So, he's not meant to be the centre of attention.

How To Handle Interruptions The Bill Clinton Way

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Once we had that on board his downbeat style and slightly deliberate delivery made much more sense.

President Clinton was speaking in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when he was interrupted by his own phone that rang loudly.

Bill Clinton was speaking on the subject of a rising epidemic of heroin and opiate addictions in the USA when his phone started to ring. 

There are other issues that keep Americans up at night and… my phone’s ringing,

Recovering quickly, he removed his phone from his pocket and presumably, pressed ignore.

While his audience laughed at the speech interruption, the President continued:

I'll have to call Hillary back and explain why I couldn’t take it.

Style and aplomb. Very skilfully done, Mr President.

"I’ll have to call Hillary back and explain why I couldn’t take it"

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How To Manage Interruptions In Your Speech

Most interruptions are vocal, but you should also turn off your phone! However, should you encounter a vocal heckler, you can keep your audience on your side when you speak to a heckler with politeness and well-meaning. They lose their "rage" with this approach.

  1. 1
    Turn Off Your Phone
  2. 2
    Be Polite
  3. 3
    Listen To Them Or Ask Them A Direct Question
  4. 4
    Close Them Down And Thank Them For Their Time

For more prosaic tips on how you can handle an interruption during your speech or presentation there's more here: dealing with interruptions. Or, you can always consider a one to one coaching session that gives you the skills and confidence to handle interruptions and succeed with your next speech.

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About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Now based in London, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK.

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