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Experts Chime in on Live Event Faux Pas

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>

We've discussed the NAMS event at length recently, It's hard to believe it's been nearly a month since I was there already.

So live events being on my mind I asked our panel of brilliant folks to tell me the worst thing they've ever seen at a live event so we could show you what not to do.

I think you'll find the answers this week interesting and maybe even a little entertaining.

Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Webinars Made Simple says:

I could probably list a dozen “faux pas” I've seen at live events, since I attend and speak at a bunch of them each year. But this one takes the cake.

The first speaker made her presentation and sold a great package at the back of the room. People flocked to the table.

Following the break, the promoter got up and said “I know a lot of you purchased that package. But we're going to have a lot of other offers over the weekend. So if you want to refund that and wait until you hear the other speakers, just see me at the back table.”

Needless to say, most of the speakers never spoke for that promoter's conferences again!

Felicia Slattery of Signature Speech Secrets says:

As a professional speaker I attend quite a number of live events, local, national, and international. Bad behavior is something I see A LOT from many types of folks including, not just attendees, but speakers, meeting planners, venue locations, and vendors. And you're asking us to choose just one??!!

How about I focus on a few — I know you have a big audience:

1. Attendees-Mistake:

Misrepresenting themselves in their appearance. Because I hang out at a lot of internet marketing events and most of us work by ourselves at home in our jammies/sweats/shorts/etc., apparently some people think going to a professional conference and wearing little more than what they'd wear rolling out of bed is acceptable for representing themselves as a professional, successful person. WRONG! If you're going to be at a conference representing yourself as a professional, unless you're one of the industry “rock stars” who's branded yourself as a surfer dude or guy who wears shorts even in sub-zero weather, wash your clothes, wear something that isn't wrinkled or stained, brush your hair, and leave the hoodie in your room. You don't have to wear a business suit if that's not the way your industry rolls, but ask yourself this: How would successful billionaires show up? Would Donald Trump wear a t-shirt to a conference? Would Warren Buffet throw on any old pair of shorts? Look at the uber-successful online/computer biz folks: Seth Godin, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell… they may show up wearing a business casual outfit, but the emphasis will be on “business.” (Nicole– you looked adorable at NAMS– dressed perfectly for your audience and totally in line with your brand!)

2. Speakers – Mistake:

Assuming every person in the room needs what you're talking about. And then being arrogant about it. Just because you've been doing what you do for a while and you've made some good money does NOT give you license to be a jerk assuming no one in your audience knows anything of any value. As a speaker you should be serving from the stage. Look to some of the best speakers of all time: Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Bob Burg. Unless you are Larry Winget and your brand is all about insulting people, don't!

3. Meeting Planners – Mistake:

Allowing your event schedule to completely run amok. If you tell people lunch is at Noon but you started late or a speaker ran over time and you didn't have the guts to pull that speaker off the stage, it's now close to 1PM and people are hungry…. the audience will start to resent you. It then throws off the rest of the event and trust me — people grumble. It's rude & disrespectful of their time. A few minutes variation one way or the other isn't a big deal, but try to run a tight ship on time and your audience will happily know what to expect and feel respected.

I'm not sure about which is the worst thing ever… but I'll tell you these are some of the most common mistakes and they are BIG ones that can easily be avoided.

Susanne Myers of says:

I’m sure there are all sorts of faux pas we’ve seen at live events, but the one that might cost you the most is to stay at a place other then the hotel where the event is taking place. If you’re living close by, you may be tempted to just commute from home. If money is tight and the hotel isn’t exactly cheap, you may be tempted to find a cheaper room near by. Do yourself a favor and don’t.

Much of the value you’re going to get from a Live Event is having conversations and forming friendships outside the regular sessions. Much of this takes place after hours around the hotel bar, the pool etc. These are the times when I’ve had conversations that resulted in JVs, helped me solve a major stumbling block I was coming across and helped me form relationships that continue to help me grow my business years after the event took place.

Each time I attend a conference, I run across a few people who end up not staying at the hotel. In many cases, they are people I would have liked to connect with, but wasn’t able to because by 11pm, they were already headed back to their hotel or home.

Attending live events isn’t cheap, but always worthwhile. If you’re going to attend, go ahead and spend a few extra dollars to stay at the hotel the event takes place in. This will allow you to take advantage of all sorts of extra networking opportunities.

And here’s a little extra tip. My biggest mistake in the beginning was not spending enough time socializing and networking after hours. I’m not a very social person (you could call me shy), and was just easier to hide out in my room. Don’t make that mistake. Go out there, introduce yourself to some new folks, have dinner with someone you don’t know and make the most of each event.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

It's always interesting to me to read the responses. Oftentimes, the question that I had in my head is not what obviously came out. 🙂

A lot of really great things happen at events, but there is also plenty of room for faux pas.

Here are a few examples that I thought of… and as I typed these, it made me appreciate NAMS even more as the wonderful, warm, learning environment that it is!

1. Klutziness.

One of my friends (who is actually a regular on Expert Briefs) actually fell OFF the stage while in the middle of  a speech.

Lesson: While that was totally unintentional in her case and not really a faux pas, I'd like to use it as an example of “watch where you walk if you're on stage”.  When stuff like that happens, get up and keep going.

2. Pride.

I've seen panels where one panelist will actually grab the microphone from another. Or they'll argue in front of all of the attendees.

Lesson: Pump each other up every opportunity you have. Don't bring each other down.

3.  Avoidance.

Some of the presenters at Internet Marketing conferences are internet marketers for a reason — they have social anxieties. So, there have been instances of speakers who hide during the entire weekend and only come out when it's time to speak.

Lesson: If you're asked to be a speaker, people are excited to meet you!

4. Timing.

Several times, I've been asked for interviews — while I was actually in a stall, taking a pee, between sessions.

Lesson: Wait until I'm done peeing please. 🙂

5. Total Stupidity.

Earlier this year, I went to an event where I was totally out of my comfort zone.  Being totally out of my comfort zone, I did a few strange things that I wouldn't normally have done — and, worse, said something just wrong to one of the presenters. I don't know how or why it came out of my mouth, but my mouth obviously bypassed my brain and my heart. I wish I could take it back.

Lesson: Don't let yourself get over-tired, overwhelmed, and feeling puny and say something stupid like I did.

6. Vulgarity.

I've been to a few events where the language was definitely above PG-13.

Lesson: Now, I'm no prude, but GEESH. It's a business function. (That's why I'll only bring my mom and son to NAMS.)

7. Thoughtlessness.

If you take a bunch of pictures at an event, at least look through them before you load them up to the internet and start tagging them on Facebook. No one wants a picture of them posted where they're scratching, picking, chewing, or heading into or out of the bathroom.

Lesson: Do unto others as you'd like them to do to you. If you see a picture where someone is bending over or you can see up their nose, either crop that out or delete the picture.

8. Assumptions.

I was at an event where the speakers did not have or chose not to wear nametags. I don't know if it was because they assumed everyone would know who they were – or if it was a total oversight, but it made it very difficult to get to know people.

Lesson:  You might look different from your avatar. Please wear a nametag so I don't feel uncomfortable getting to know you. I'll wear mine. 🙂

All right. I think that's enough venting for one afternoon.

If you'd like to meet me and hang out in a warm, supportive, friendly learning environment in February – I hope you'll consider coming to NAMS. Info is below.

Have a GREAT day!



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I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Lain Ehmann

    Oh my gosh such interesting responses!
    The presenter who poured a glass of scotch while giving his speech looked lame and insecure, not cool.

    The other presenter (same event) who came up to me at the bar and said, “I’m so drunk!” looked immature and desperate, not cool.

    I should mention, these were NOT at NAMS! NAMS is definitely PG-rated, thank goodness.

    The cute young thing who showed up wearing a low-cut tank top didn’t get noticed for her business acumen- no matter how great a brain she has.

    That was at NAMS. But it was still PG. 😉

    Great advice above!

  • Kelly

    Susanne, you nailed it with your advice about participating in social mixing and networking between sessions and after hours.

    I know it’s not easy – grabbing a drink and walking up to strangers is something I was not real comfortable with – but I did it afraid. It was worth it too 🙂

  • Tishia Lee

    I’ve only been to one live event (thankfully it was a NAMS event!) so I don’t have much to chime in or gripe about. But I do agree with what Susanne said about networking after hours or in between sessions – one of the main points of going to a live event is socially interacting with other attendees.

    My one mistake I made at the event? I stayed in my comfort zone too much when it came to networking. I stuck to a few people that I knew and didn’t get out there and interact/meet a lot of new people.

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