I just watched this clip of Occupy Atlanta, where the group decides that booked speaker, John Lewis, known for being instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement is not allowed to speak. The group couldn’t come to a consensus about whether they wanted to hear him speak, namely because someone spoke up and said that he didn’t want one voice to be seen as more important than everyone else’s.

From a conference booker’s perspective, I’m horribly offended by this. It can be difficult to find speakers your audience may like, convince them to come speak to you, and then work through the logistics. So, then to have that person on your stage (literal or figurative) and then have them taken off before the audience even understands what they’re going to speak about, is a conference booker’s worst nightmare. And frankly, a rude audience. When someone has taken the time to come speak with you, it’s likely wiser to hear them out first. Disagree with them after they speak. There’s a chance that your life will be enriched in a way you didn’t expect. Think of it this way, it’s like inviting someone to your house, finding out your kid is in a bad mood, and then not letting your guest in because of that kid’s mood. The kid is there to be taught something new. They should just go into time-out while you speak with your guest. Or taught to sit still and listen.

From a communication specialist’s perspective, this meeting is interesting. The call and response method so everyone can hear what is being said is a slow but ingenious way of making sure that everyone is heard. By both listening and repeating what others are saying, the chance for group comprehension may be higher. Of course, some people may be so focused on getting the words in the right order that they may not be really thinking about meanings.

The hand motions used for agreeing, disagreeing, etc are really interesting. It’s true that clapping can interrupt a speaker. Clapping isn’t always a sign of agreement, sometimes it’s just good manners (Like a standing ovation at a high school play frequently is). When you really need to know a group’s opinion, this method of hands could be a really great way of recording that.

What are your thoughts?