The State of the Union is “Distracted”

This post was written by Brett Slater, Chief Social Media Officer at The Latimer Group

I admit, I only watched the first 20 minutes of President Trump’s State of the Union address last night, but something struck me as I watched. On any given panning shot of the crowd, attendees in the chamber – particularly members of Congress – were busy on their smartphones. DURING the speech.

On one level, the image is pretty amusing. We’ve all been in meetings that run too long, speeches that seemingly have no point, or have points we may not agree with. The distraction factor is high. It’s easy to put oneself in that place, especially if you’re not a fan of the President.

But on the other hand, the President of the United States is addressing you in person. I know it was a long speech, and I know that President Trump can be… how he can be. But, Congressman, can we not back away from the phone for a while, and give the office and the moment the full attention and respect it warrants?

MY point is, we’d want the same attention and respect when we give a speech, or lead a meeting, or make a presentation. As the attendees, whether or not we want to be there, and whether or not we agree with the message, we owe each other the respect of active listening.

My fellow Americans… Put the phones away.

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6 responses to “The State of the Union is “Distracted””

  1. Clay says:

    I’ve always believed respect is not something that is given, or warranted, rather it is something that is earned.

  2. John says:

    I’m with Clay on this. Plus these people are expected to be plugged in to their staff and constitutents all the time, not to mention social media, especially during a speech like the president’s. Honestly, I resorted to reading Twitter commentary after 20 minutes, about the time you checked out). Just curious why you didn’t watch the whole speech?

    • Dean M. Brenner Brett Slater says:

      Thanks for the comments, John and Clay… Frankly, I didn’t watch because I’m not interested in politics. But then, you and I weren’t elected to BE interested. We have the luxury of being able to check out or flip over to Twitter. But believe me, if I were a Congressman in that room, I wouldn’t be on my phone. I just think it’s in bad form. Call me old-school, I guess.

  3. Drew says:


  4. Chris Pehura says:

    I’ve had millennials in my meeting — they acted the exact same way. I usually knock the table a few times and demonstrate turning off my phone and putting it away.

    I chalk this up to lack of experience. But for politicians, putting your phone away is just good manners.

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Brett Slater

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.