“Take Any Phone Calls Outside Of The Room”

I wasn’t altogether surprised to hear this announcement at the start of a conference recently — I’ve been in too many public events where someone has answered their phone and started conversing loudly, even though there’s someone presenting on stage. But what can we do when people are so thoughtless?

It’s hard to argue that anyone needs to answer their phone in the middle of a conference presentation — even if your phone is set to only take calls from defined numbers, you can leave the room and then call back. But it happens all the time — I’ve even seen it occur in the theatre. The principle that you don’t always have to answer a phone regardless of the situation is obviously hard to recognise for some people.

I’m often tempted to punch the offenders in the back of the head when this happens, but that wouldn’t actually reduce the disruption. What are your strategies for dealing with this kind of rudeness? Share your ideas in the comments.


  • The presenter should stop and then he should highlight the inconsiderate person and announce that he will not be continuing until the person is off the phone.
    Then, when he has hung up, the announcer should ask in front of everyone “You finished now? May we continue?”

    I just wish in the cinema the projectionist would pause the movie.

  • I usually get to the person and make an obvious point of asking them to shut the hell up and take it outside… This is a great way to embarrass them in front of the group and works particularly well at conferences where the group is either their peers, or potential clients or suppliers. I’m happy to play the schoolmaster if I (and everyone else) can then enjoy whatever it is the person interrupted!

  • Conferences and presentations are easy enough to deal with if the presenter actually cares. They can just make a point of it to the whole room and that should put and end to it generally.

    As for something like a Cinema though where there isn’t someone in the room in control, I find that a small jar of petrol and a kitchen blow torch is fairly effective in putting an end to most conversations. You do have to put up with a few minutes of screaming though until the person burning to death passes out from the pain, and the smell of burning flesh for the rest of the film, but that’s usually better then the smell of the BO of a lot of filmgoers.

  • Strange, I find the following so easy:
    1) Press “answer”
    2) Say “Just a moment, going somewhere quiet”
    3) Leave room
    4) Say “Sorry about that, I’m at a conference. What’s up?”

    Seems to satisfy the need to be considerate to others, and take the call, assuming it’s worth answering right now.

  • Honestly, this is just the symptom .
    The disease is the fact that people do not think of others that want to focus on a discussion and they do not have the mental rigour to think ” I have a mobile phone but I will turn it off lest I disturb other people in this meeting”. If you can’t delegate, wait or not go to the meeting because you have a pregnant someone then who is in control ?

    Same goes for the cretin texting with a bright screen in a darkened room. ” Oh, you want to concentrate on the screen? really ?”

  • My mother does this during dinner. Does anyone else find this rude? Not only does she find it acceptable to take her calls in the same room while the rest of us are eating dinner but she makes calls… This is not a rare occasion, and the calls were not anywhere considered urgent. On a side note myself and my siblings are all young adults, not toddlers that need to be kept in view 😉

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