As much as I can, I head to the front row of any conference, talk, presentation and seminar. I find that I tune in best in those spots – I “lean in”, as Sheryl Sandberg would also say. If I’m a few rows or tables back, the fascination of people watching can impede my hearing so I head to the front.
Front rows teach you to be a good attentive guest, to not fidget too much, to listen, to give the presenter the full respect they deserve. It teaches us to remember that giving of ourselves on stage allows others to learn, think, ponder, celebrate, grow and discuss.
One of my most recent front row seatings was at the Craft Brewers Conference held in Washington DC. At the opening Keynote Address and General Session, the rows are usually straight across, as were all the rooms I visited (a slight curve would serve the attendees better). Room layout has much to do with the efficacy of presentation to the audience and interaction of the presenter with the audience.
I like the front row also because to me being there in person is never replaceable by a screen, however large and simultaneous. The whole idea of going to a live talk is in large part the level of personal intimacy it offers: you can’t enjoy a concert from a recording as much as you can in person. And you’ll never get as much out of seeing the gestures, facial expressions, whole body movements, and supporting atmosphere remotely.
A few things that came from first the presenters live & in person:
Kim Jordan, New Belgium Brewing: Strengthen the bonds that make this a community, not just an industry.
Peter Bouckaert, New Belgium Brewing: 3 Ingredients in beer: Love, Experience and Creativity
Kim: Nurturing your happiness quotient feels right.
Peter (per receiving the Russell Scherer Award): [this is] the best place at the right time.
Another panel presenter offered this as well:
As partners, we’re putting everything on the line together.
Sitting in the front row affords you the most direct visual line to those giving of their time, expertise, humor and passions. As a presenter myself, I also very much appreciate the attentiveness and engagement of other front row sitters.
Why wouldn’t you sit in the front row? After all, like Sam Calagione says, we’re all blissed out!