I was a motivational speaker in San Diego, California, last week. The lucheon keynote speaker got up to speak while the hotel staff continued to serve lunch. Sadly, clanking and crashing dishes and cutlery got in the way of what would have been a great speech.
The plate wielding staff were completely unaware that they were interfering with the learning session. The interference didn't stop there, though. Someone also neglected to ask the hotel catering staff to suspend service and clean up during the motivational speech.
It is very frustrating trying to deliver a motivational speech with catering staff darting in and out of view, balancing plates and cutlery on their shoulders and forearms.
That's especially true if you like to walk around and interact with audience members; you can crash into these people parading around with plates, and that wouldn't be good for anyone.
I prefer to establish guidelines in advance to help eliminate the distraction:
- Ask the program planner to (if possible) leave time for the audience to eat and have plates cleared.
- Always clear it with the lead hotel catering staff member that plate clearing and service will stop during the luncheon keynote speaker (give specific time frames)
- Realize that plates do not need to be cleared. People can sit and watch a motivational speech while a half eaten meal sits on the plate in front of them. Ideally, plates would be cleared, however it's not going to affect the luncheon keynote speaker if they are not.
- If all goes haywire and people are slowly grazing over their food and the wait staff are still hovering during my speech, I will typically give the audience a quick activity to do while I go and remind wait staff to stop service.
Usually luncheon keynote speakers occupy a 45 to 60 minute timeslot. I find this is barely enough time to do your message justice,so it pays to eliminate distractions.