December 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts December 1999 Current Issue
December 1999

Dear Answer Lady,
At the last conference I planned, an attendee sitting in the front row of a seminar room actually removed his shoes and socks and began clipping his toenails. Needless to say, the speaker was unnerved, as were those sitting nearby. When it comes to disruptive behavior during an event, where do you draw the line, and how?

Dear Pedicurious,
Draw the line right at the point where the behavior begins to upstage the speaker. When it's crossed, take action, but have a proportional response. For persistent coughing, giggling, chatting, etc., if the offender doesn't have the sense to remove himself, a thoughtfully worded reprimand is 99 percent effective. For toenail-clippers and others who have escaped the influence of polite society, I see no reason to be polite. Boot 'em. Call security. If a debate ensues, ask the speaker to stop, and get the person out of the room before allowing the event to continue. I mean, honestly&toenails.
Yours in Planning,
The Answer Lady

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