In a recent Iowa campaign event, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was confronted by a heckler concerned about the possibility of Social Security and other social benefits being cut.
Prior articles, including Chris Christie demonstrates one way to handle a heckler, Obama effectively handles how to handle technical difficulties, and Political campaigns offer examples of how to set a mood with music, have examined campaign presentation techniques. As the 2012 election season heats up, we will offer more examples of ways the candidates effectively, or ineffectively, handle campaign appearances and apply those examples to engaging presentation techniques.
Governor Romney demonstrated poise, confidence, and tact in handling the heckler at his recent Iowa campaign stop. Some lessons can be gleaned from the experience.
First, Romney tried to respond to the heckler’s shouted complaints.
When the man kept talking, Romney tried to stop the interruptions by telling the man he had had his turn and it was the Governor’s turn to respond.
The heckler refused to listen and Romney supporters started to turn angry, so Romney stopped talking and let the man speak until he had run out of points to make. This technique calmed the crowd, made Romney appear reasonable, and prevented the man from continually arguing.
Then, with the heckler running out of breath and arguments to make, Romney was able to reply with a pithy, specific, non-open-ended comment that did not encourage discussion.
The man again started complaining. At this point the Governor turned his back to the man, said it was time for someone else to speak, and took a question from someone else.
This series of techniques effectively handled the situation. Most importantly, it gave the man an answer to his complaint, left him run out of points to shout, preempted the audience, and allowed the governor to successfully continue.
Codified, the sequence applied to a presentation could be described as follows:
- Step One – Try to stop the heckler from commenting
- Step One – Let the heckler air their initial comment
- Step Two – Try to stop additional comments so you can answer the specific comment
- Step Three – Let the heckler talk himself out
- Step Four – Answer the heckler with a definitive comment that allows little room for reply
- Step Five – Turn away from the heckler and move on to other participants
To see these steps in action, click on the attached video.