30HANDLING HECKLERS

THERE IS NO easy way to defuse hecklers, but you need never be the victim of someone who tries to steal your platform and grandstand at your expense.

Humor can be a potent weapon in the right hands. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig was once speaking at the United Nations when a group of Puerto Rican separatists began shouting at him from the first row of the mezzanine-level spectator’s gallery. Without missing a beat, Haig stopped his speech just long enough to say that he was unable to hear what the men were trying to say, but “if you would just step forward a few feet I’m sure I could hear you a lot better.” The audience laughed, and the hecklers sat down and stopped heckling.

In a political campaign, any heckling ...

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