Was watching a Carol Service this morning, and when the priest went up to pray, I saw two men climbing behind him with wires and cords in their hands and plugging in something. They were captured on camera and took away from the relevance of the words that were being said by the priest.

Seeing this happening made me remember so clearly another event a few months ago, when I was supposed to raise the toast for someone who had won the distinguished Padma Shri award. As I was into my talk, I felt the audience getting distracted, while looking at something happening at my side, but below the stage from where I was speaking. I continued speaking, thinking that whatever was causing their attention to be swayed would soon stop, but it was not to be and soon, found that not only had someone crept to the side of the stage, but was doing something that created the distraction, which was the opening of gifts and rustling of papers. The rustling and movement by that person continued throughout my speech.

I found out later, that one of the organisers had realised she had to bring the take-home gifts to the room, had brought the whole carton to the side of the stage, and was busy unwrapping or wrapping them, to keep them ready for when the guests departed.

Not for a moment, I am sure, did she think she was disrupting a talk. 

You have seen such too I am sure; organizers, so busy organizing their event, they fail to notice they are disrupting the meaningfulness of the program. For them, the talk, the message is not important: It is to them, a mention in maybe an AGM report, or a WhatsApp message to supporters or friends that a meeting was conducted successfully by them.

I have seen organisers on stage beckoning to a colleague when someone is speaking and giving instructions, while completely disrupting the proceedings. Priests telling a peon to switch off the lights in the main porch or instructing them to tell the choir to sing softer, because he cannot hear himself.

Not for them the meaning or content of an event, but just the holding of it for their record books.

I tried to put more force into my speaking that evening, even used some drama and desperately cracked a few jokes to get the people’s attention back, but from their looks as they returned to me, I knew the organizer with her rustling papers had won!

I hasten to add here, that they mean well. Not for a moment do I think they do it on purpose. But we need to tell them to move into the spirit of an event and not just get engrossed into its form and structure, for talks, shows and events to be a success!

Till then they will continue to be event interrupters..!

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