|The man, thought to be comedian Simon Brodkin, had managed to get through security at the Manchester venue|
To the horror of Cabinet ministers and activists, the situation took another dramatic turn for the worse when a notorious prankster managed to carry out an extraordinary security breach to approach the podium and hand her a fake P45.
The meltdown will fuel speculation about accident-prone Mrs May's future as leader, which has been raging all week. By contrast Boris Johnson, who has been accused of manoeuvring to take over the top job, was seen as having delivered a barnstorming speech to the Tory faithful yesterday.
Ironically given her throat issues, one of Mrs May's key phrases was that she wanted to become a 'voice for the voiceless'.
The premier also attempted to laugh off the shambles by tweeting a picture of throat sweets next to her ministerial red box.
Before the dramatic scenes unfolded in Manchester, Mrs May had been making a bold bid to turn the tables on Labour by unveiling a series of policies designed to show the Tories are on the side of hard-working families.
She started by making a grovelling apology for the disastrous election campaign, admitting it had been too 'presidential' and she must take responsibility.
In a highly personal passage, Mrs May also conceded that her 'unemotional' image as an 'ice maiden' had been damaging and spoke of her sadness at not being able to have children.
But her performance was stumbling as she struggled with a severe sore throat. Philip Hammond at one point stepped in to hand her a lozenge.
'The Chancellor giving something away for free,' she joked.
Comedian Simon Brodkin also managed to breach security to step up to the podium and hand over a fake P45 - saying 'Boris Johnson told me to'.
Mrs May shot back: 'I'm about to talk about someone I want to give a P45 to - Jeremy Corbyn.'
Activists and ministers gave the PM a series of awkward standing ovations as at times it looked as if she might not be able to complete the speech.
At the end, Philip May leapt on stage to give his embattled wife a huge hug.
Mr Johnson was in the front row to witness the debacle, seated next to Home Secretary Amber Rudd - one of his most vocal detractors.
At one stage Ms Rudd demanded that the Foreign Secretary stand up to applaud the PM.
Mrs May told the Tory faithful: 'I know that people think I'm not very emotional. I'm not the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve.
'And I don't mind being called things like the Ice Maiden – though perhaps George Osborne took the analogy a little far.
'But let me tell you something.
'My grandmother was a domestic servant who worked as a lady's maid blow stairs.
'She worked hard and made sacrifices, because she believed in a better future for her family.
'And that servant – that lady's maid – among her grandchildren boasts three professors and a prime minister.'
Admitting the election campaign had gone badly wrong, she said: 'I am sorry.'
She vowed that the Tories would become the party of 'compassion' and a 'voice for the voiceless'
Mrs May attacked the 'broken energy market' in the biggest announcement of her speech.
She said: 'The most loyal customers are those with lower incomes, the elderly, people with lower qualifications and people who rent homes.
'People who have less time to shop around.
'Next week this government will publish a draft bill to put a cap on energy bills, meeting our manifesto promise and bringing an end to rip off energy prices once and for all.'
Government-owned land is expected to be cleared for new social housing built by local authorities.
The Tory election manifesto promised the delivery of 1.5million new homes by 2022.
In her speech today, Mrs May told ministers it is time to end the civil war and start looking outwards at the needs of ordinary families.
Mrs May said the Conservatives should be 'not worrying about our job security, but theirs'.
'Not addressing our concerns, but the issues, the problems, the challenges, that concern them,' she said.
Invoking Winston Churchill, she insisted: 'Let us go forward together. Let us fulfil our duty to Britain.'
Mrs May went on: 'Let us shape up and give the country the government it needs.
'For beyond this hall, beyond the gossip pages of the newspapers, and beyond the streets, corridors and meeting rooms of Westminster, life continues – the daily lives of ordinary working people go on. And they must be our focus today.'
Signalling defiance despite a welter of speculation about her future, Mrs May said: 'It has never been my style to hide from a challenge, to shrink from a task, to retreat in the face of difficulty, to give up and turn away.'
Mrs May told the conference that it was now clear that the energy market was 'broken' and that those being 'punished' by higher prices were the most loyal customers, often the poor, elderly and less-educated and those in rented homes.