I’ve sat in a lot of conference audiences in recent years.
And I love it. Sitting in the audience, watching a brilliant speaker on stage, it can be as good as going to the movies – sometimes!
Occasionally I know the person that is sitting next to me in the audience at a conference; often I don’t. But no matter the context, there’s 7 words that always make me and the people around me shift in our seats a little as we know something uncomfortable is coming.
And that’s when the speaker begins a sentence with:
Turn to the person next to you…
I was recently at a conference and this happened.
You could almost feel the collective groan / eye roll of the audience as we begin to mentally prepare for this potentially uncomfortable and awkward situation of opening up on our thoughts to our colleagues or the acquaintance we’re attending the conference with.
It could be worse. I could have sat next to someone I’ve never met – a stranger! I’d be thinking ‘are they sitting on their own? Are they going to talk to me or the person on the other side of them? Will I just pick up my phone and pretend I’m important?’
People are scared to even look each other in the eye these days (test it next time you get into a lift or walk around your building), so being FORCED to talk to someone we barely know – you must be joking?! ; )
Eventually, I get over myself and do as the speaker requested – I start talking to the person next to me (who I didn’t really know). And low and behold, we’re able to have a conversation! Imagine it?! And they didn’t turn the other way or reject me! We even shared some interesting insights about the business and industry we were each in.
Sarcastic, I know. But if I was to think about – 8 out of 10 times I’ve heard those 7 words at a conference – the discussion with the person next to me is the best part of that session, even the whole day.
Now if the speaker asks me to do jumping jacks or start hugging people, that’s a different story!
About the Author:
Keith is the owner of Inspire Speakers. Keith has been representing and promoting the world’s best conference speakers since 1998. Keith spends almost all of his time working with speakers who have great stories with powerful lessons and can tell their story really really well. Contact Keith anytime on 0450 077 997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org