I’ve made an interesting observation whenever I’ve attended conferences, seminars or presentations. The front row remains resolutely empty while all the other rows get filled up in a jiffy. The event organisers are always trying to gently encourage each person walking through the door to make their way to the poor, ignored front row but there rarely seem to be any takers.
For a long time, it seemed very strange to me as I always make a beeline for the front row no matter what the event. Curious, I asked several people about why they chose to sit at the back of the room. ‘Well, isn’t it a lot safer?’ one person said to me. That made me even more curious. ‘Err…Safer in what context?’ I asked. She looked confused and uncertain. ‘Well…just…safe. I can’t explain it.’
After much research, I learned why the back rows are perceived as cozy and safe. The presenters can’t make eye contact with those sitting at the back of the room. Which in turn means, they will shoot all their questions at the poor unsuspecting souls sitting somewhere at the front. If no one asks us a question, we will never give a wrong or foolish answer. Which means we will never be ridiculed or laughed at. If we’re never ridiculed or laughed at, we’ll always be safe.
I see now why the back rows might seem attractive. But I want to give a little suggestion here, and it’s based entirely on my personal experience. So if it doesn’t suit you, by all means you don’t have to take my advice. Being safe is never half as much fun as taking a chance. When you sit in the front row, you open yourself to risk….risk of not knowing the answer to a question, risk of being put on the spot, risk of being singled out for attention, risk of being laughed at. But you also open yourself to opportunity….opportunity to connect, make new friends, be noticed, be a player instead of a spectator.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that incredibly exhilarating. Some of my most valued friendships and connections have been formed at networking events where I’ve deliberately chosen to sit in the front row. If you want to make a real difference, if you want to get out of your comfort zone and step, however clumsily, into the zone outside it where all the magic happens…I would highly encourage you to sit in the front row. If you’re already a front row person, high five!
Like they say, if you want something you’ve never had before, you must do something you’ve never done before.
3 cheers to the front row. It really is where the magic happens 🙂