Monday, September 23, 2013

If You Don't Like Me, Leave Earlier

(please excuse me for a little bit of a rant first thing on Monday morning)

Last Friday morning I presented a program about change to a state association group of about 350 people in Asheville. About 5 minutes into the program a group of three women got up and started to sneak their way out the back doors.

I’ve had this happen before and I always make a crack about it, “Whoa! Don’t leave yet! I’m not that bad!”

It always gets a laugh—and some groans from folks who don’t think I should be calling out the leavers—and then I move on with the program.

I’ve asked other professional speakers if they call out those folks who are trying to sneak out and the numbers of who do and don’t are pretty much split down the middle.

Here’s why I do it: I’ve been speaking professionally for long enough to know who the leavers are and why they leave. They are people who don’t respect what I do, don’t respect the people who worked hard to put together the conference and don’t respect their own jobs. They look at conference attendance not as a professional growth opportunity but as paid vacation days, a way to get away from work and still get paid.

And, don’t tell me, “They might just be going to the bathroom.” Not three at a time. “Maybe they are getting an early start on the long trip home.” That’s fine, but don’t stick your organization with another night in an expensive hotel. Leave at the end of the previous day.

A few years ago I was in Greensboro when the early-leaving situation occurred and I handled it the same way. In fact, people came up to me after the program and applauded me for calling out the early-leavers. Later that evening, in the hotel lobby, I ran into the people who left early and I asked them why. They said, “There’s a sale at Lane Bryant and we wanted to get there early.”

Professionalism on parade.

I realize that not everyone loves what they do, like I do. But, if you aren’t going to act like a professional, stay home. 

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