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Chase Untermeyer talks on etiquette in public at IACCGH event

Keynote speaker Chase Untermeyer with Chamber members. Photo credit: Bijay Dixit

Keynote speaker Chase Untermeyer with Chamber members. Photo credit: Bijay Dixit

by Manu Shah
An intimate group of IACCGH members listened intently as Chase Untermeyer, former Ambassador to Qatar shared his tips and techniques on how important people must act in public. As a former Ambassador and senior aide to the elder President Bush, he’s attended a fair share of banquets, funerals, ceremonies and meetings and used his keen observation of people to pen a book titled “How important People Act: Behaving yourself in Public.”
Past President Sanjay Ram introduced the Speaker and expressed the fact that while the Former Ambassador was himself an important person, what was “more important was that he was willing to share his secrets” with those who could find themselves in similar situations.
In an address that totally nailed it with doses of humor and real life examples, Chase Untermeyer underlined the fact that important people are “composed, confident, considerate and comfortable.” These rules, he added, applied not just to CEO’s or high ranking officials but were equally applicable to the junior executive who’s been thrust into a leadership role in a certain circumstance and thus carries the responsibility of “becoming the company.”
He also highlighted some common errors we all commit: the glass in the right hand, the nametag on the left and looking over someone’s shoulder in the midst of a conversation. His explanation: the glass must be held in the left hand since it leaves the right hand free to shake hands, the nametag should be on the right since most people are unconsciously looking at the right side and finally giving your full attention to the person you are conversing with conveys you are really interested in meeting him – a quality, he says, President Obama had in spades. A trick he picked up was to concentrate on the bridge of the speaker’s nose in case his attention wavered.
Important people, he underscored, often forget that all eyes are on them assessing their every move and judging every word which is why different behavior is expected of them. Some important do’s are keeping feet and knees together when sitting on stage, sipping water from a glass rather than a plastic bottle and setting your glass down before being photographed to avoid looking like the “town drunk.”
When invited to “say a few words,” keep it short, and use single syllable words as they have the most impact. Dress up rather than down.
As for listeners, resist looking at the ceiling, wrist watch or emails during a speech as the action is read as insulting and unprofessional. Find yourself dozing off during a long and boring speech? Sit on the edge of your seat. This offers the double benefit of staying alert and looking interested.
Despite all the digital ways of connecting, he noted, face to face interactions are infinitely more powerful and impactful and a personal hand written message is a clear stand out.
The book which offers many more nuggets of “how to behave in public” is clearly a must read for each one of us. The Speaker also conducts training for companies based on his book.

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