Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Etiquette and the Perfect Lunch Spot

There is a great bookstore off of Dupont Circle in DC called Kramerbooks & Afterwords. They have a special brunch on the weekends and a knowledgeable staff in their bookstore. When Monica Lewinsky's receipt from the store came to light during the most heated portion of the Clinton-intern scandal, Kramerbooks refused to share the details of her purchase.  They are that solid in their commitment to their patrons.

I may be slightly exaggerating when I say Kramerbooks stands for the last bastion of respect for the intelligentsia in DC. But, I am in no way overstating it when I say, Kramerbooks has a great lunch menu and drink specials.

Because they do.

In fact, if their lunch menu was less inviting, I may not have ventured there  today for my business meeting with a couple of colleagues. If their atmosphere were less inviting, I may not have entered into a fascinating dialogue with a few patrons about social media and etiquette.

Our conversation centered around the pervasive use of smart phones and the way people use them in social settings. Each person shared their own experiences with people answering phones or texting away during otherwise intimate moments with friends.

And the conversation got me to thinking...:
  • I hadn't taken my smart phone out during our conversation
  • Would it one day be acceptable to interrupt the current conversation for phone or text (except in emergency?)
  • Was it already acceptable and I didn't know it?
  • What does this mean for meeting attendees?
  • We really need an etiquette guide/baseline for meeting attendees and speakers
  • Oh yeah, I've been working on this very issue with a few association people...better get back to it!
A few weeks ago on the weekly #assnchat Twitter conversation (facilitated by Jeff De Cagna), a group of us discussed putting one of these etiquette guides together. The idea was to create something as a guideline for attendees and speakers to reference for social media use during a meeting.

My conversation with the patrons at Kramerbooks today reminded me that people were still looking for guidance with this kind of behaviour...and that we need to start working on this project again as a community.

Issues we will address:
  • acknowledging the meeting's social media policy
  • acknowledging the speaker's social media policy
  • public disclosure about using SM during a session
  • your rights, rules, and risks when using SM during a meeting
  • what to include in a meeting program about social media
If anyone is interested in working with a group of us on an association social media etiquette guide for meetings, please email me at klitalien@delcor.com.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Kramerbooks' drink specials, check out their online menu. :)


  1. I'll help yet I have some biases. I personally believe whether the conference organizers or speakers like it or not, you can’t control the conversations, and people will use social media to talk about you. I don’t believe it’s about the speaker or the conference organizers. It should be about the attendee. They paid to be there and they have a right to complain, get up and leave or even tweet negatively about the presentation/conference if it’s not meeting their needs.

    So I think the framing of the conversation should be this, “Acknowledging the Audience’s Right To Talk About The Conference & The Speaker In The Social Space” or “How To Encourage Productive Use Of Social Media From A Meeting.”

    If not, it sounds like a license for the speaker or conference organizers to try and control the conversation.

  2. Jeff, while I, personally, agree with you on your points, I also see value in the idea of guidelines designed specifically for a particular meeting atmosphere. Some people might very well view such an animal as an attempt to "control the conversation," as you mentioned. In a perfect world, though, I would hope people could also look at it as an effort to acknowledge different points of view, get the issues out in the open, and negotiate a sort of meeting-specific peace treaty for everyone to play together nicely.

    While I certainly do see the "it's my money, and I'll tweet if I want to" side of the debate, I also believe there must be a happy medium we can work toward that allows for some kind of satisfactory compromise among the different schools of thought.

    I think your second proposed title, "How to Encourage Productive Use of Social Media From a Meeting," speaks volumes on its own. No one likes to be told what to do, but no one likes to hear "I'm going to do it anyway, whether you like it or not" either. I think any attempt to find common ground, instead of simply continuing a never-ending argument, represents a productive use of time.

  3. Kiki, et al,

    Thanks for taking this on. Good work that needs to be done. As always, you can control (not) or harness/guide it. Good Job at pointing that out Jeff.

    Sounds challenging Let me know i fyou need any guidance from my point of view.

    Many of you know I'm a big proponent of the use of social media at events. The challenge is the buy in. The association leadership and conference organizers & attendees all need to have a focus on what it will bring.

    I would say also if it's rules and policy dropped on the crowd at the conference, it may be received poorly. It may be all about the delivery.

    ...Otherwise they'll be talking on twitter at your hashtag or elsewhere about how you are the Czar of social media.

  4. Thanks all! Jeff, Serenity, and Tony...I will definitely be contacting you to help with the development of this - you guys will be a great addition to our little team!

    I definitely agree with the idea of audience being able to discuss and did not mean to come off sounding as if we were planning to beat anyone into submission(as if we could, anyway!).

    My wording may have come off as a bit brusque because I have worked with scientists so much...sometimes there are legal reasons the information in a particular session can't be published.

    That is just one reason why I am so very taken with this project...many people may not know if the material is okay to promote or not...or what they can post or not post. If we have some clear statements made, then ideally everyone (speaker and attendee) would know what to expect!

  5. Lindy,
    I can't wait! Another excuse to hang out! :)

  6. KiKi and all, here is a link to a column by Jim Sinkinson in which he discusses the impact of social media guidelines in regard to Twitter use at press conferences. A similar thought to what we are discussing here: "...could we, by gently suggesting a standard of courtesy in the new world of tweeting, induce a modicum of courtesy among those in attendance at our event?" Jim also shares the text of the guidelines provided to participants and an overview of various reactions to said guidelines. Definitely some "good to know" experiences here, and a few additional thoughts in the comments section as well. http://budurl.com/5rk2

  7. Hi Serenity! Thanks for sharing the link! ust wanted you to know that I'll be speaking with a couple of panelists tomorrow at the PMPI event "Using Interactive and Social Media to Enhance the Meeting Experience" and I'm going to be mentioning the guide and how there is a group of us working on it (...also talking about virtual attendees and virtual exhibit hall). If any of you are in the DC area tomorrow evening and want to get together to brainstorm on the guide, let me know!


Thanks for your comments!