When did it become acceptable to be on your phone at events?

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“Playing on your phone” is usually considered a sign of disinterest, boredom and in most social situations just plain rude. However, more and more events have event hashtags and attendees are being encouraged to tweet/share where they are, what they are doing and engage in conversation – online. Therefore is has somehow become “acceptable” to be on your phone at certain networking events.

I think this is great when used properly, but there are downsides:

the length of time it takes to write

The length of time that it takes to compose a sensible tweet (or other social media post) makes it hard to focus on the event itself or what is going on around you at the same time. I often find that I miss things and that good events rarely have a quiet moment. Odds are – if your event is really good I won’t be tweeting during the event.  However, I will share my thoughts after the event is over. At an event I recently attended we were supposed to be doing an “interactive exercise”. This didn’t work as a lot of people were too focused on their phones and missed the instructions.  The lady beside me apologised by saying that she needed to finish her tweet.

The solution? pre-scheduling and pre-event preparation are your friends.

It is “acceptable” to be on your phone

It is also easy for people to get distracted. A lot of attendees are actually checking emails etc. They are not fully engaging/participating in the event.

Not every venue has decent wi-fi or phone reception

There is a pressure on venues to have wi-fi and a decent phone reception. The first question from attendees is “what is the wi-fi password?” (top tip: have it on a sign or include in the top corner of the first presentation slide). Everyone wants to be connected, but if a business or venue doesn’t offer free wi-fi or is in a basement, there can be connectivity challenges and attendees get frustrated.

Of course I shouldn’t be too negative – there are advantages too. The main one being that it increases your visibility.

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