Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top 5 Worst Things Conference Attendees Do

I'm just finishing up at a conference, and preparing to leave.  I previously complained about annoying things conference speakers do.  Today I'm looking at the flip-side--here are the 5 most annoying things people attending conferences do.

5: Web surfing.  It is incredibly distracting to be behind someone with a laptop opened to the World Wide Webosphere. If someone is surfing the net, it's hard to tune it out--especially when there's a speaker droning on about (the law, real estate, mortgages, widgets, whatever).  I find myself reading celebrity gossip over their shoulder instead of paying attention.  Also distracting--playing any game in front of me.

4: Ignoring personal space.  It's not that people get into my space, but rather that people don't realize how much space they're taking.  Depending on how the chairs are set up, you get maybe two feet of table.  If your conference binder, pens, drinks, garbage (empty plates, cups, napkins), knick-knacks, and whatever take up more than your allotted space, you're being a jerk.

3: Reserve seats.  It is okay to reserve a seat for a colleague.  It is not okay to reserve a seat for someone who doesn't show, especially if seats are at a premium.  It's certainly not okay to put your stuff on a chair and reserve yourself a seat if you plan on skipping the session.  The conference I'm at has limited table seats, and overflow seats with no tables.  I was shocked at how many table seats had piles of stuff on chairs, but never had people claim them.

2: Bad questions.  This can take various forms, but it's always really bad.  Questions asked at the wrong time are just annoying.  Questions that were already answered or covered during the presentation show the questioner wasn't paying attention.  Questions that are too long or have multiple parts are frustrating for the speakers and other attendees.  Worst are non-questions--the "questions" that are really disguised statements that go on and on.  We are paying to hear the experts' opinions, not yours, jackass.

1: Take calls.  The obvious number 1.  You should never hear a phone ring at a conference--that's why the gods blessed us with "vibrate" functionality.  If a phone rings, it should not be answered in the conference hall.  If it is answered in the conference, the only words spoken should be "hold on" as the person gets up to leave.  Why would someone have a phone conversation in their chair while the conference is progressing?  No idea, but it's about the worst thing a conference attendee can do.

I tend to get frustrated pretty quickly, and any of these things is enough to make me crazy.  What about you?  Do you do these things?  Do you hate it when others do?  Defend your behavior or share your thoughts below, and don't forget to share this post if you like it!

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