Look Out: Bad Audience Behavior Has Escaped the Cinema!

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

 

Rude, disrespectful, self-centered and ignorant behavior has become symptomatic with attending any movie. There are those in the movie-going audience who bring the absence of common sense. But as I’ve been told, common sense isn’t common anymore.

Go to a movie. Any movie. Chances are decent that you’ll sit near that person, or couple, or group of friends who talk during the previews. Or during the movie. Even greater are your chances that you’ll sit behind that person who texts during the previews or during the movie. You know the one: he or she could be sitting five rows down on the other side of the theater and decide to start texting friends. With a 5” smartphone screen designed to be a guiding light in any emergency.

I think you’ll run into more problems going to see a Midnight horror movie with a younger adult audience than you will with an older group seeing Murder on the Orient Express, but no one group has the exclusive title for rotten, annoying attendees.

Granted, some theater chains make a point of enforcing a no talk, text or cell phone rule. Alamo Drafthouse seems to be doing a nice job of it. And this viral video has made the rounds…

But I’ve never been to an Alamo Drafhouse. Others chains such as AMC and CineBistro play those friendly reminders during the previews not to be rude during the film. I’m not sure they really help. Two weeks ago, the lady seated to my right was too busy playing on her phone to see what was on the screen.

Years ago, one regional theater chain in the Midwest used to have a live, in-person usher stand, welcome the audience, and ask everybody to make the necessary adjustments to their mobile devices. That seemed to help, before that chain got bought out. Now they don’t do that anymore.

Breaking News: Be on the Lookout for Bad Behavior at Meetings, Trade Shows, Conferences and Events!

It’s all around you. Like Tom Skeritt’s character Captain Dallas found out in the original Alien film of 1979, it’s moving right towards you. But look out! If you say anything about it to the person causing the problem – you may be the one to blame!

“It” goes hand-in-hand with our “me first” mentality which has permeated so much of society. And by bringing your self-centered attitude with you to the business environment, you:

Prohibit others from hearing the speaker:

You may learn in a modern way, with modern devices, but there are people sitting right next to you in a crowded room trying to listen. The way you bang on your keyboard or mobile device screen is loud and annoying. Once in a while notes are acceptable, but you’re not a court reporter. And the way you check e-mail and take notes and tweetand make noise is distracting.

Prohibit others from learning:

We’re sitting behind you and can see everything you’re doing on your screen during the presentation. Email, PPT, and web surfing and shopping. If you don’t like the speaker, get up and leave. Don’t shop online. It doesn’t help that you’re working multiple devices on the table in front of you, either.

Prohibit others from concentrating:

Could you be a little quieter and/or neater when eating in the meeting room? Yeah, I know food and coffee and dessert and sometimes more come with the business meeting territory, but use your judgement. And would it be too much trouble to clean up when you’re done?

Prohibit others from seeing: (Part One)

Want to take a picture of the presentation, and of the presenter(s)? How about a video? Better yet, how about live stream the video – probably without permission?

Great!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Grab your smartphone with both hands.
  2. Hold it horizontally for that landscape look.
  3. Now stick your arms and hands in the air, and hold your phone up there like you just don’t care.
  4. Leave ’em there like you just don’t care.

Because you don’t.

People are sitting all around you. Behind you. They’re trying to watch and learn, too, you know…

They paid good money for their tickets. To attend that event.

You may not care about spending your company’s money to attend events, but they might.

And I sure as hell do.

Try asking those around you for permission you before you block their view for an indefinite period of time.

Now get your phone out of my face.

Prohibit all from seeing: (Part Two)

This one isn’t for the audience. It’s for the event producers with an “I don’t give a damn” attitude about the entire audience. I love – absolutely love it – when I see somebody share a conference room picture or a trade show video from a session room with 30 rows set classroom style only to have a panel discussion or a one-on-one conversation on a stage three feet off the ground. Lounge chairs on stage, and everybody beyond Row 3 can’t see. Way to provide value in attending. People don’t pay to watch a screen behind or to the side of the stage. That could’ve been done at home.

Prohibit somebody from taking a seat:

Call me old school and traditional, but a gentleman should offer his seat to a woman. Or a disabled person. Or a senior citizen. Stand up. Make room. That’s what I was taught growing up. On the bus, train, or the classroom. I’ve walked into plenty of sold-out, jam packed convention halls and I’ve seen attendees stand and circle the back walls of the hall because there are no available seats. I’ve seen people sitting on the floor. But it’s hard to recall the last time I saw a man give up his seat to a lady. I’m sure it’s happened, but not nearly enough.

A few years ago I attended a Broadway performance at Studio 54 in New York City. (That club you’ve heard so much about from the 70’s is now being used for Broadway performances. It’s a very, very nice theater…) The moment the house lights went down a young man in the row behind continued to use his phone. It caught an usher’s immediate attention.

The usher’s instruction to the young man was clear:

“Turn off your phone. Now.”

(several moments passed)

The usher repeated, “Now.”

The phone was turned off.

Damn right.

Give that usher a raise and usher him to the front of the of line of human beings waiting to be cloned. Offer those clones high paying jobs throughout the business meeting world.

You may feel as if you have certain “rights” to do what you want to do when seated in an audience. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And I’m not suggesting all audience members sit on their hands and remain perfectly quiet for the duration…

A theater usher shouldn’t have to be the one who teaches business professionals the meaning of the words courtesy, awareness, etiquette and respect.

But it does seem as if somebody, somewhere, is teaching people the meaning of one, much smaller word: Me.

If it’s you, please stop it.

Now.

For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing and #Presentation Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.