Christine Quinn, New York City councilwoman, was caught on TV chewing gum while she was standing behind the mayor. When it was her turn to present, she folded the gum in her cheek. Yuck! Not a pretty sight and not very professional. And this from someone who wants to be the next mayor of New York City. It certainly diluted her image. Gum chewing will quickly destroy the executive presence of any leader.
Before Kate Middleton married Prince William, her family was invited to a major event where the Queen was present. When the camera moved in for a close up, Kate's mother was seen chewing gum. It didn't matter that it was for reducing cigarette craving . It was perceived as insulting and low class.
When giving a presentation, never chew gum. It may seem like a little thing but it's not. And little things make a great impact. A good rule of thumb is to carry hard candy instead of gum. In most social situations, gum chewing is not polite, it's disrespectful, and certainly a distraction to the listeners. It competes with your message. The audience will remember the behavior over the words. When viewers saw the Christine Quinn video, they laughed. This is not the image you want as a public speaker unless you're a humorist. If you get caught masticating, it helps to have a good recovery strategy like Christine Quinn's publicist.
The response was “Yesterday, Chris Quinn announced the creation of 682 affordable apartments and 2,900 construction jobs — now that’s something to chew on.