Pet Please #132: Flickering Lights as an Alternative to Yelling

winonw-700x525I have a new, very specific pet please.

On Saturday, I ran an annual event for my company called the Stonemaier Games Design Day. It’s a gathering of game designers and gamers to playtest games, learn new games, and generally just talk about games.

Each year, we crowd 75-85 people into a social hall for the event. It’s a very structured day, with attendees signing up for all sessions in advance. Each person will have between 8 and 10 different gaming sessions throughout the day, so it’s important for everything to stay on schedule.

In the past, when it was time for each session to end, I would raise my voice above the din of the room and tell everyone to wrap up. Usually a few minutes later I would do the same, as people sometimes need a second reminder.

Essentially I was yelling at a bunch of people 15 times over the course of the day. I don’t like yelling at anyone once, much less 15 times.

So this year it occurred to me that there might be a better way. I told attendees in advance that instead of yelling, I would flicker the lights when a session needed to end and then again a few minutes later when the next session began.

I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but as it turns out, it was rather magical. The lights really caught people’s attention. Never once did I have to intervene by yelling. In fact, I didn’t raise my voice the entire day.

I loved the impact of this system, so I thought I’d share it with you. I like it even better than using a microphone (particularly at this event), because there’s really no need for me ever to announce anything. I can share all announcements by e-mail in advance–I don’t need to interrupt the flow of the day by monologuing.

Have you ever used the flickering lights system at an event? Did it work?