Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 42

Don’t Be Shy at Conferences

Sitting in the front row at a conference improves attendees' focus on presentation material and their chances of meeting speakers, says a networking expert.

Clay Hebert, founder of a video networking company, recently shared with the blog Medium several reasons why conference attendees should sit front and center. They include:

  • You'll connect with speakers. "Some venues have big, bright lights illuminating the stage, making it hard for speakers to see more than a few rows into the audience," Hebert says. "But if you're sitting in the front row, leaning in and paying attention, you immediately become part of any speaker's direct line of sight. Your hand will be seen first if you ask a question and your face will be memorable when you talk to any speakers afterward."
  • You'll actually be able to see the slides. "Few speakers design visuals for the back row, so by sitting in the front, you get to absorb all the content," he says.
  • You'll focus and learn more. "If you hide in the back, every row between you and the speakers is a potential distraction," Hebert says. "Staring at the backs of everyone's head makes it easy for your mind to wander. It's too easy to check your phone and tune out."
  • You'll gain confidence in other areas. "The amygdala ... is the part of our brain that tells us to sit in the back," he says. "It's the little devil on our shoulder that convinces us to hide, fit in and hold back. Simple actions like proactively sitting in the front row at a conference can help you learn to recognize and manage [this part of your] brain."

This article is from the April 29, 2013, issue.

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