Every Sunday Blogging4Jobs invites our resident Etiquette Expert, CareySue Vega (@Etiquette101), to share tips when it comes to etiquette in the workplace during our own preview of Manner Monday.
“What is the etiquette at banquets during a keynote speech? It is always a temptation to want to chat with the person next to you at a meal, I understand, but not when the speaker is speaking. I find it incredibly uncomfortable to tell people at my table who are talking during the speech to “shhh” it seems so grade-school that anyone should have to do that, but what is the appropriate way to do so? This has happened several times recently. Do you have any suggestions?” – Mindy R.
As audience members, we play a role in the success of the presenter on stage. We signed up to attend, so we’re responsible to participate – which means, paying attention and listening. For some reason people don’t feel like they can be ‘seen’ or ‘heard’ when the spotlight is shining on someone else. Just like in high school, when you were sitting on the back row passing notes – you always got caught! You don’t want to be caught in a professional environment ‘passing notes’, or having a side conversation, while everyone else is there to listen and learn.
To help ward off potential problems in the future, I would suggest bringing it up as part of the casual conversation before the keynote begins. Something along the lines of “I’m excited to hear today’s speaker. I was shocked during the last event I attended…” commenting on how you could not hear the speaker for everyone carrying on his or her own conversations at your table and throughout the audience. Making it a point of conversation prior to the speaker will keep it fresh and in the forefront of everyone’s mind. And then if you do have someone piping up during the keynote – you can politely and professionally ask them to be quite saying, “I can’t hear the speaker”.
Another point you may bring up during the casual conversation – is a reminder to silence cell phones. Yes, many people may be tweeting out key points during the presentation or taking notes, but we don’t want to hear the dings of tweets, messages, or calls coming in during the process.
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You never know where you may meet your next contact, customer or colleague. Think about every person in that room as your next connection – you’d hate to loose them before you even have a chance to meet them by getting caught ‘passing that note’ during someone’s presentation.