“Hey, would you mind keeping it down?”
That’s what I wanted to say to her. I wanted to say it to her and her friend. Carrying on a conversation while somebody else is giving a speech is annoying. It’s disrespectful to the speaker and it reflects poorly on you. And this story only gets worse.
I was recently at an all day workshop/seminar with a few hundred of my closest friends. It was a networking event with a focus on marketing. I was primed to hear all that the speakers had to say and knew it was going to be a great event.
So there I was, about to enjoy the presentations along with a good friend of mine. The emcee got up and kicked things off, and my friend and I were doing a good job of not chatting with each other, which is unusual for us. The emcee introduced the first speaker, and shortly after the speaker began talking, right behind me, so did somebody else.
You’ve been there before, in a seminar, at a school thing for your kid, in church, wherever. You are trying to enjoy what’s going on and right behind you somebody is chatting with their neighbor. You clear your throat. You give them the old “glance over the shoulder and make eye contact,” only to buy a few moments of silence before they start back up. Other people are looking askance at them, yet they remain completely oblivious to the fact that they are potentially doing damage to the first stage of any relationship. They’re creating visibility, but it’s not very positive.
Then, just when you think you’ve had enough, the food wrapper starts. Oh yes, the insidious blow-horn-loud food wrapper. There’s something crunchy in there too. Chips? Pretzels? A bulldozer running over cement blocks? Maybe I’m exaggerating to say it sounded like a social party on a construction site, but at this point I couldn’t focus on the speakers at all.
I was seriously considering relocating when the most amazing thing happened. The emcee got up and thanked the speaker on stage and moved on to his introduction of our next guest speaker. You guessed it. The Chatty-Cathy wrecking ball behind me stood up and walked to the podium to the applause of everybody in the room. Except me.
By this time I was so irritated I couldn’t even listen to her presentation. I walked out of the seminar for some “fresh air” and came back in somewhere in the middle of her speech. She was talking about Social Media and how you had to be careful with how you were represented online. Imagine that.
A Look in the Mirror
After the speakers were done, I was talking with my colleagues about it and it really got me thinking. When does your visibility campaign start? This guest speaker had ruined her first chance at credibility with me, and I can only assume a few others, before she ever made it to the stage. How often have we damaged our own visibility when we didn’t realize that anybody was watching?
It made me think of how many times I got out of my car and thought, “Wow, I really need to clean that thing.” How many times have my clients seen my car and agreed? What if I was standing outside a prospect’s office building yelling at somebody on my cell phone. Did the receptionist hear that and pass it on to my prospect?
So when does our visibility campaign start? My answer was, as soon as I pull into the parking lot. My colleague’s answer: when I’m getting dressed in the morning. Well there you go. More room for improvement.