Reserved Tables for Important People


2014-snell-roy-speaking-headshot-200By Roy Snell

Organizations like ours often reserve tables for “the important people.”   When our staff did it for the first time I asked them to take the signs down.  My feeling is that everyone in the room is important.  And there is nothing that bugs me more than when I see a room full of people and the leadership is singling out “the important people”.  The organization means well… they want to recognize some people for something, but they have forgotten what it’s like for the people that are not at the “important people’s table.” The message received is… I am not as important. We have not, and will not, do this.  We do need a couple reserved tables in the general sessions so we can make sure the general session speakers get up when they are supposed to get up.

We will also not introduce Bob to recognize Sharon, who gets up and salutes Tami, who gets up and praises Tom, who finally introduces the first speaker with a 5 minute reading of a full page Bio.  Some organizations feel they have to do this.  They seem to think it breeds credibility and they genuinely want to be nice to some people they feel have earned it.  A professional association should be about the profession.  Every profession needs leadership, but we don’t have to fawn over leadership to be an effective organization. I just got an idea.  Someday I am going to put a reserved sign on every one of the tables at lunch.

Check that… I just got back from a staff member’s office and we are going to do it next week at a conference with 3000 attendees.  All 300 tables at lunch will have a reserved sign.  As is often the case, my unusual idea was met with resistance.  I was told people will be confused.  I argued if there is any confusion it won’t last long.  I did compromise on a couple ideas that will minimize confusion.  The confusion won’t last long, but what will last long is the message to everyone in attendance… you are all important.  I am going to walk into that room and look out at 300 reserved signs and think that this is the nicest way I can say… “To heck with elitism.” Let’s keep this little surprise between you and me.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Reserved tables for important people @RoySnellSCCE” quote=”I am going to walk into that room and look out at 300 reserved signs and think that this is the nicest way I can say… “To heck with elitism.”” theme=”style3″]


  1. What if you had most of the signs say “reserved for important guests” with a few sprinkled in that said “reserved for guests who think they are important” and see what happens!

  2. Roy, you truly are a class act. See you at lunch next week. I’ll be seated at the table marked “Reserved”. 🙂

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