Etiquette Tip of the Week

 Etiquette Tip of the Week
The fundraising dinner was running late. After an uplifting keynote speaker, the audience was exhausted and ready to leave.

A woman, whose only job was to sing a closing song, decided to give a keynote of her own. She gushed for 20 minutes about how the keynote speaker inspired her. She went on about her own life story and all she had been through. An otherwise lovely event had turned into a hostage crisis.

She wasn’t finished. She announced it was the birthday of the friend she brought with her and asked everyone to join her in singing, “Happy Birthday.” Participation was spotty. After that, the now ready to slip under the tables audience, had to wait out her inspirational song. Any goodwill from the original keynote was lost.

A good fundraising keynote leaves the audience on a high note. When the keynote speaker is done, the event should be over. Any final “ask” for more donations must be quick and entertaining.

There are countless examples where the keynote speaker at a fundraiser lifts the audience up, only to have an emcee or follow-up person (whose job was to close the event and get off the stage), “Blah, blah, blah…” for 15 minutes or more. That’s not just time wasted, it’s money lost, from people who bolt for the doors early and ones who never return for future events.

If you are not hired to be the keynote speaker, don’t be the keynote speaker. Do your job, then get off the stage.

Event organizers should not stand powerlessly by. When the singer was 60-seconds into her spontaneous keynote, the organizers should have intervened.

Whether you are running a small staff meeting or a large fundraiser, be respectful of other people’s time. Know when to fold ’em.

Speaking of celebrations of birth, it’s “birth week” for the Etiquette Tip of the Week author. (Because we no longer celebrate just birth “days” in our house.) But I am not taking any days off, so keep those emails with great questions and stories coming!

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