Sparrow’s Nest: Harsh message for noisy awards show crowds from event veteran

Sparrow's Nest

‘After being in lockdown for several years we are bursting to get back out and celebrate’

Sparrow’s Nest Readers’ Topic: I am new to the Australian industry arriving recently from the UK. I have been very fortunate to attend recent Award shows and celebrate Agency of the Year nominations. Is it normal for the audience to celebrate heavily and talk throughout the ceremony? I was embarrassed by my work colleagues however did not know how to address their behaviour.

What a great question and so timely, I am so glad this topic has been raised in Sparrow’s Nest. I have vented my frustration regarding audience behaviour in the past however during covid with the lack of events it has not raised its ugly head. However, as you say we are back in the swing of things with awards season and end-of-year events, and it is super busy from an event perspective.

Unfortunately, this is normal Aussie behaviour and it is not pretty, although, I do understand some of the reasons.

After being in lockdown for several years we are bursting to get back out and celebrate. That could be Agency of the Year, a major industry event for charity, or an end-of-year Christmas event. We are social animals, particularly in advertising and I also love networking and celebrating with colleagues/industry friends.

Add alcohol and you have the perfect ingredients for loud disrespectful behaviour, call me old-fashioned however show some manners … be respectful and quiet.

I can also relate to how do we address this difficult situation; I was disappointed in myself recently when I did not speak up and asked the table to be quiet and listen to the MC/speeches at a recent charity event.

As attendees, we must take responsibility for our actions, and the more people in attendance I think the harder it is to control. As an example, if you have 250/300 people it is easier to manage than say 700 or 1,000.

With a larger crowd herd mentality kicks in and if other people in the audience are chatting you see the whole room join the group bad habit.

Event organisers and the companies holding the events must also take some responsibility for audience engagement and behaviour. If you have a long skinny venue with limited big screens or a sub-par sound system you are not helping your cause. As an example, if you are on a table of 10 people, say table 90+ at the far back of the venue with no visibility of the stage and a crap sound system of course you are going to chat throughout the proceedings.

Add in a passive host/MC who cannot manage or control the room, and you are encouraging the audience to lose concentration and engagement. Also considering the elephant in the room … that some audience attendees might be both tipsy and on Mexican marching powder, you better keep the show super engaging plus short and sweet!

Now do not get me wrong I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, Sparrow’s Nest loves a good award show or end-of-year celebration just as much as the next person, however, please have some manners.

When the speeches or presentations are on, show some respect and be considerate. Imagine if you were up on stage and 1,000 people talked throughout your speech. Plus, you and I need to be stronger and tell our colleagues and fellow table occupants to be quiet during the speeches, we can chat and catch up after the official proceedings. Obviously, we can blame other factors, but the more I think about it we as an industry need to be more respectful and take responsibility for our own actions … please shut the fuck up!

Read more Sparrow’s Nest columns here.

Greg encourages Sparrow’s Nest reader feedback and topic ideas. Contact the Birdman via [email protected].

Greg Graham is a Mediaweek contributing editor.

To Top