You never get a second chance to make a first impression.










These tips may seem very obvious to most of us, but how many times have you been the guest in an audience at either a social or business event and struggled to hear what the speaker was saying?  I know I have.  Often.  I’m not sure why anyone would continue holding a conversation with others once a speaker has been introduced.  Usually this happens when the speaker is only going to be making a few remarks, like welcoming the guests to the event, expressing some edicts that may be necessary, or honoring certain special guests in the audience.

Perhaps it is because it is expected that it will be a “brief speech”, some guests feel no need to pay attention.  Usually, when there is a keynote or somene sharing for thirty to ninety minutes; they seem to have our undivided attention – because more than likely, we are learning something and find the content important.  However, it does not matter for how long the speaker will speak or what the content of the speech is; respect should be shown regardless.

Here are five easy ways that we can show respect to any speaker:

  1. Actively listen– Your conversation at a mixer, seminar, fundraiser, reception is an important social tool and one in which is necessary for a pleasant and successful event.  However, the minute someone picks up a microphone (or heaven forbid – strikes a glass multiple times) to make an announcement, you should graciously discontinue speaking.  It’s as easy as saying “Oh, hold that thought, let’s listen to the speaker.”  Active listening requires focus on, and eye contact with, the speaker. 
  2. Show interest – Nodding in approval (or disapproval depending on the subject matter), applauding at certain key points, and even “oooohing and aaaaahing” over certain remarks, demonstrations, or exhibits is all a way of showing the speaker that you are engaged with his/her content.  Depending on the energy or style of the event, it’s perfectly fine to interject a humorous comment…if the speaker seems to be welcoming a more interactive speech.  That is not to say one should “heckle” and continually interrupt the speaker; but the occasional comment, question, or laughable moment in a casual environment, is usually well-received by the speaker, particularly if it motivates the crowd or encourages them to listen.
  3. Stop eating and drinking – Again, if it is a brief speech during a cocktail hour or mixer reception, refraining from chewing, clanking ice in a glass or utensils on the plate isn’t going to cause you to starve to death.  It is very distracting to the speaker (unless of course it is a “dinner speaker”) to speak to a sea of chewing mouths or compete with people walking to the buffet or the trash can to discard their plate/napkin etc.
  4. Remember to applaud –  as soon as the speaker has closed their speech, either by announcing so, or by answering the last question asked.  Don’t let the “uncomfortable silence” take place in that first few seconds.  Take the lead and start the applause to encourage others who may be unsure if or when they should applaud.
  5. Thank the speaker – Take a few minutes to go up to the emcee or speaker/s and thank them for their contribution to the event.  Even if it’s basic announcements, a simple “I enjoyed listening to you, thank you for the nice introductions of key members.”, or “Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the community today.  I was very moved by your comment on…..”

If everyone in the audience applied these simple tips for showing respect, the experience would be more enjoyable for all in attendance.  I hope the next time you attend an event, these suggestions come to mind and you perhaps put yourself in the “speaker’s shoes” to see if you would like the same from your audience.

Very graciously,




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