First lady Michelle Obama was heckled by a protester yesterday at a $500-to-$10,000-per-ticket Democratic fundraiser in a private Washington home, and did what many speakers dream of doing by confronting the heckler directly.
She approached the heckler and said: You can keep on speaking, but if you take the mic, I’m leaving.
She left the choice up to the audience, which began chanting to get her to stay. The heckler was ushered out, and the speech was finished to loud applause.
The exchange is making news today in part because it’s unusual for a high-level speaker to confront a heckler directly, or with such finality, in the moment. Many speakers opt for a tense silence while the heckler is ushered out, attempt to ignore the heckler or just keep talking. I suspect that many executives, faced with a heckler, hesitate to let that speaking gig unravel, and choose the path of least resistance as a “safe” approach.