How to Deal With Hecklers

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Last week, President Joe Biden delivered the traditional State of the Union address to the joint chambers of the U.S. Congress. His speech got interrupted several times by Republican hecklers and it’s a good case study on how to deal with such interruptions.

First, always be prepared for it to happen. Even though this would have been unthinkable a few years ago, I’m sure Biden was prepared. Polarization has become a business model in U.S. politics, a point I wrote about before.

Second, give yourself a few seconds to regain control of the situation. Don’t act surprised or look rattled.

Third, humor is often great to deal with it. Biden’s line “I like conversion” came across well.

For Biden, the heckling was actually a gift from heaven. One of the goals he wanted to accomplish with the speech was to show contrast with the Republican Party that was favorable to him. The hecklers did that for him better than he could have ever accomplished it.

Overall, I think it was the best speech Joe Biden has delivered as president so far. Both with respect to content and the delivery. I’m sure he has invested serious time into practicing, which leaves me without much doubt that he wants to run for reelection.

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