How to Handle Interruptions during Live Campaign Events & Interviews

As well planned as your campaign might be, unexpected disruptions will occur.  Such interruptions are most likely to happen during a live event or interview than at any other time. How should you handle such interruptions?

This last week the BBC’s live interview with Robert Kelly went viral when he forgot to lock the door to his office before going on Skype for his interview.

Everything was going fine until his 4 -year-old daughter wandered into the room. A few seconds later his 8-month-old son entered in his walker. Kelly’s wife Kim Jung-A quickly came to the rescue, wrangling their children out of the office.

If you haven’t seen it, you can watch the latest sensation flying around the Internet here:

I’ve written in the past about how to go viral in the worst way as a candidate. This however is a positive example of going viral. I’ve sent it around a few times myself already.

But what does this have to do with you as a candidate for elected office?  Plenty.

Nearly everything you need to know about handling interruptions during a live event or interview you can learn from Robert Kelly.

First, he stayed focused on his message.

Whenever someone interrupts you during a live event or interview, they want to pull you off message.

In a campaign, that is usually intentional. In this matter, the little girl merely wanted to be near her father. Yet it could have had the same effect.

Despite the approach of his daughter, Kelly continued to discuss the topic of the BBC interview. He didn’t let the distraction pull him away.

Even when his son joined them, Kelly did everything he possibly could to stay on message.

Candidates who stay on message usually win.  Those who don’t, they hope to do better in the next election.

Second, he kept his composure.

Kelly easily could have lost his cool.

He could have yelled at his daughter to leave and take her brother along. Even though he’s the one who forgot to lock the door, he easily could have scolded his wife for not keeping an eye on their children.

Not too many people would have been surprised if that had happened. If it had though, we’d probably be talking about what a jerk of a father he is, instead of laughing and sharing this video whenever we can.

Keeping your cool under pressure is something we expect professionals to do. We expect police officers to remain calm under the most dire and distressing situations. We expect it from experts and pundits like Robert Kelly.

We also expect it of our leaders. I know, there seems to be a fair amount of elected officials who’ve forgotten this.

The voters want to see how you respond under pressure.  If you lose your cool due to an interruption, people will wonder if you have the temperament to hold the office you are seeking.

“Never let them see you sweat”, the saying goes. It’s absolutely true when you’re running for office.

Third, he came off as authentic.

There is nothing fake or phony about Robert Kelly’s reaction to the interruptions by his children.

You can see in his expressions that he wishes this wasn’t happening. He could easily be the inspiration for a Southwest Airlines ad about wanting to get away.

Yet, his expressions also reveal that he knows his children didn’t have a clue as to what they were doing. They were simply kids being kids. At the end of the day, that’s what has endeared the world to Robert Kelly and his family.

We all understood what was happening. We all empathized with him. We all knew we were watching a real family.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The couple says they weren’t mad and didn’t scold the children. “I mean it was terribly cute,” Mr. Kelly said. “I saw the video like everybody else. My wife did a great job cleaning up a really unanticipated situation as best she possibly could… It was funny. If you watch the tape I was sort of struggling to keep my own laughs down. They’re little kids and that’s how things are.”

Even before reading that, I knew it was true because of the way Kelly handled himself during the disrupted interview.

Candidate Take Aways

My advice to you is to enjoy this video. Share it with your friends if they haven’t seen it. Of all the things that go viral, this is one that is worthy of having a billion views by the end of the month.

Know that as a candidate, interruptions are going to happen.  And when they do, remember Robert Kelly.

Stay on message, keep your cool, and let others see your authenticity.

How you handle disruptions and interruptions on the campaign trail will speak volumes to the voters, just as this interview speaks volumes to us.