Cell Phone Etiquette – It’s Time for Meeting and Event Planners to Act

Cell phones, a.k.a. smart phones, are everywhere. And I’m sure most of us wouldn’t be willing to go very long without one attached to our hip or in our purse. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure that most of you reading this would actually turn your car around and go home if you left your cell phone there by mistake. And let’s face it, the use of cell phones has been a huge benefit for meeting and event planners. I can remember the old days, when executing a program, when we were desperately trying to get in touch with a staff member out in the field. Today we don’t even bat an eye when we need to get a hold of somebody on the road. We simply called their cell phone.

While cell phones have definitely made life easier, it’s important to point out what’s considered cell phone etiquette today.

Cell Phone Etiquette Tips for Meeting and Event Planners

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that he or she just couldn’t turn their cell phone off. What if there was an emergency? How would somebody get in touch with me? Well, believe it or not, people did survive in the age before cell phones.

Cell Phone Etiquette for Restaurants

The basic rule of thumb in restaurants is to turn your phone off. If, and I say a big if here, you must have your phone on then put it on vibrate. And if you really need to take a call, you should excuse yourself from the table and take a call in a private area. The general rule of thumb is that if you answer your phone in a restaurant you’re basically saying to the people you are with that the person on the phone is more important than they are.

Cell Phone Etiquette for Meetings

If you’re on your way to a company meeting room, leave your cell phone on your desk. I can remember going to a hotel sales and marketing meeting to do a presentation. While the Director of Sales and Marketing was talking I couldn’t help but notice the people around the table were all reading e-mails or texting on their cell phones. At first I thought how rude to do that while the Director Sales and Marketing was talking. Well, as soon as he was finished speaking, I noticed that he, too, started to return e-mails while I was doing my presentation. I guess I now know why his staff were on their cell phones.

I know, I know… We’re all so busy that we just can’t miss a phone call, e-mail or text from a potential client. Well you know what? If you that busy don’t attend the meeting. Because it’s rude.

So the etiquette on cell phones in meetings is that they do not have a place there. Leave them on your desk or turn the phone off during meetings.

Cell Phone Etiquette for Site Visits

Okay this could be the one time where it may be acceptable to have cell phones on. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all and the meeting planner or the supplier is free to answer any and all calls. Rather, it may be acceptable to answer your cell phone when the call is pertaining to the site visit, or meeting, itself. For example, there are times when the supplier may be waiting for a call from a venue to see if they could come by for a site visit with their client.

Cell Phone Etiquette for Airplanes

I am dreading the day that we are allowed to use cell phones during flights. It already drives me nuts when the plane lands and everybody pulls out their cell phones to call their loved ones, friends, or colleagues just to inform them that the plane has landed and they are waiting for it to taxi to the gate.


Do you really think people are that interested in knowing where you are at every possible moment? Hint – no they are not. If you must let someone know that your plane has landed safely at the airport, text them. No one else on the plane wants to hear your conversation.

Here are some additional resources on cell phone etiquette:

Many companies are implementing cell phone policies. I, for one, believe that it’s time for the meeting and events industry to also jump on this bandwagon. I know there are people out there that are unaware of just how rude they are being when they’re using their cell phones inappropriately. So perhaps establishing a do’s and don’ts guideline on cell phone etiquette will help these people look a little more professional.

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