One thing I noticed as both a presenter and an audience member is that the behaviours of audience members can be very diverse.
I'm not talking about the 'usual' categories of 'the snowman' who won't show any interest or 'the expert' who wants to show how they know more than the presenter - this is a bit different.
Please turn up on time
I know that conferences are hard to find your way around, but as a presenter, we're instructed to start on time (really, we are: at one conference, there was a huge loudspeaker announcement to 'Please start your presentations NOW!' before every session). If nothing else, we need to finish on time.
If your inter-hotel bus was late etc, then OK - please try and 'sneak in' at the back. I'll try and help you out by pointing out seats but a constant stream of people is really hard to manage. And please don't do the 'OK, I need to go now, I'm just heading into a session' part of your call when you're actually through the door.
Do your email outside - or at the back
Believe it or not, it's very obvious if you're 'making notes' or just doing your email/day job. I don't know how to describe it, but it is. If you need urgently to have your laptop open then please at least sit at the back.
If you're doing the 'annotate the slides' thing, then that's fine, although if you have a tablet, that's better than an open laptop. I don't know why, but it is.
And a kindle, is very obviously a kindle. You're reading a book, right? There are other places out of the rain and it's especially annoying if some people are standing . ..
Questions as you go - or at the end?
Find out. My preference is to take them as I go as I can try and work out what's of interest to the audience and tailor my presentation to you. Others have a strict time-keeping policy that asks to keep them to the end. It's OK at the start to say 'questions now or later'?
Also, it's strange but even though you think you've asked loudly, not everyone can hear you. I'm not trying to insult you by repeating your question, but it's that I'm 'mic'd up (amplified) and you're usually not. Not everyone else can hear you and they probably would like to hear both your question and the answer.
Again, if you didn't hear the question, please call out - I sometimes forget to do the 'OK, the question was . .' part and go straight into an answer. If the answer was 'Yes, it is!' then it doesn't mean much on its own.
If a question turns into a discussion, don't be offended if you're asked to 'leave it to the end' or 'take it off-line'. Presenters are paranoid about finishing on time - come chat at the end, we'll try and get you an answer if we can.
I'm flattered if you like one of my slides so much that you'd like to save it for later use. Really. And I'll try and hold it on the screen for you but please don't take longer than about 15 secs to focus up.
The exception is if the slide says 'Confidential' or something similar - it's usually polite to ask.
We do try and 'upload our material' where possible, so you should be able to get it if you need it, but be aware we're often tweaking it until the last minute, so you might not be able to get it until after the conference - sorry!
Feedback - yes please!
I know you'll need to fill in what seems to be about 100 feedback forms at the end, but they really are useful so I can get better next time. One request: Please differentiate between something I can do something about and something I can't. If the room was too cold or there weren't enough seats or there was no drinking water in the room - sorry but that's out of my control, usually.
On feedback, if you can't hear me, I'm talking too fast, if the slides are blurred or if I'm standing in front of the projector (it happens!) then please call out. Those kind of things I can fix right then right there.
At the end of the presentation, please come up and chat - we really like to hear from you and we'll stay as long as we have time - usually we'll only disappear if we have to present in the next 'slot'. We present on things we are interested in, so we're happy to talk for a long time!
Sorry - not my thing!
If you find you're in the wrong presentation (I've done this!) either by a bad room number or by the abstract becoming a lot clearer in the title slide (e.g. 'Performance Tuning Good Practices' is actually 'Performance tuning the XZDF2300 noodleplooker appliance') then it's fine to walk out. If the presentation hasn't started, it's OK to let the speaker know why - rather than having them think you just don't like them.
Again, it's fine to walk out in the first 5 mins (really!) but if you're not sure a presentation is 'for you' then please sit at the back and 'sneak out'
Finally, don't bang the door!
If you need to leave for whatever reason, even if only a bathroom emergency, please 'soft close the door'. Nothing makes everybody look around when there is a huge WHAM! when you let the door go.
Any pet hates? Anything to add to the 'things I don't like about presenters at conferences?' - hit the comments!