13 February 2013
Waterbottle gate: a reminder about drinking and speaking from Senator Marco Rubio
Since Senator Marco Rubio, an early favourite for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination according to some newspapers responded to President Obama's State of the Union address a few hours ago, he's attracted a good deal of flack on Twitter for the way he grasped for a bottle of water during his speech (about 23 seconds into the above) - in a sequence that's apparently going viral...
Yet all of us who do any public speaking at all know that a glass (rather than a bottle) of water close at hand (rather than a few feet away and nearly out of reach) is an essential part of your backup equipment.
The awkward, even shifty, way in which Rubio reached for his water may not have been very elegant or well-timed. But it came nowhere close to the disaster I saw some years ago at a Labour Party annual conference.
The speaker was making a long and boring speech about a long and boring composite motion that he was proposing. A cutaway shot of the audience showed that some were reading newspapers, some were audibly chatting to each other and very few were paying attention.
So when the speaker paused for a drink of water, the audience must have thought he'd finished and promptly started clapping.
But he hadn't finished and thanked them for the applause - before droning on for several more minutes.