After years as a professional speaker and speech coach I thought I had seen it all. I've seen people freeze at the podium, I've heard the worst technology and financial monotones, I've seen the speaker with his fly open and I've even seen the woman lose her half slip while she was speaking.
But I NEVER thought I'd see someone answer a cell phone during a speech.
WHAT WAS RUDY GUILIANI THINKING?
Recently, Mr. Guiliani spoke to the National Rifle Association. The audience was not a fan of his views on gun control. He had an opportunity to express his views and try to win support for his campaign. Instead, his wife called him on his cell phone and he answered it in the middle of his speech. He had a brief conversation with her before hanging up. At first the audience thought it was a joke. He may have thought talking to his wife humanized him but it had the opposite effect. He looked weak and it was rude and disrespectful to the audience. He did not present himself as an executive.
What should he have done? He should have turned his phone off. He should have informed his wife not to call during the hour he would be speaking. In this case, he should have ignored it or apologized as he shut it off. Under no circumstances should he have spoken to the caller.
How often do we attend meetings or sales calls that are interrupted by cell phones? By taking the call, the speaker may think he appears important but the opposite is true. A leader is present. A good speaker connects and attends to the audience. When a leader is truly important, the callers can wait.