Someone asked me why I always sit in the front row at company all hands meetings. I also sit in the front row at church, in classes or when I’m listening to a motivational speaker. The main reason is the same for all of these. And no, it’s not because I am a brown-nosing teacher’s pet.
It’s simple. I want an unobstructed view so that I can completely receive what the speaker is delivering. When you sit behind someone, you can be distracted by people whispering or moving around to get comfortable; or get bothered by wondering why they have lint on their sweater or too much product in their hair. When you sit in the front row, the speaker also has an unobstructed view of you, so you will be less tempted to pull out your smart phone and check soccer scores.
If there is a VIP or executive section reserved in the front row, I sit right next to it. This guarantees I will get to meet and talk to a senior executive and possibly form a relationship that will help me in the future. If you do this, be ready to be asked questions. Good leaders are always interested in what you think.
And one more reason that may surprise you… I sit in the front row to help the speaker. Maybe this comes from my Toastmasters training, but I want to be a great listener as well as a great speaker. If I am ever in your audience, you will see me making eye contact, smiling and nodding in agreement. I want the speaker to have at least one friendly target in the audience to put them at ease and let them know they are doing well.
Give the front row a try at your next large meeting or event. It’s easy to get a seat because no one wants to sit up there. And unless you’re taking notes on your handheld device, try stowing it under your chair and connecting with the speaker.
And if you think they really don’t have anything worth receiving, then why are you there in the first place?
Wait a minute….weren’t you in the front row sticking out your tongue and making faces at me in Mrs. Turner’s speech class? Just teasing, but I fully endorse your front row status. Many of us at the podium seek someone like you in the front row for confirmation that we’re getting our message across to the general audience.
Good stuff David!
I’m right there with you, David! In addition to all your good points, add this one: you can hear “everything” the speaker says, even the asides and softer words, and you cannot hear everything the audience says because you’re in front of them!