When I am teaching yoga some new people come right up to the front so that they can see and learn the right way to perform the poses. Others that want to hang back and relax and participate at a different level may set their mat down in the back row or back corner. Occasionally they get a little surprise when I move to the side or back of the room to lead the class through a few poses and all of the sudden they are the front row now.
In cycle class those that really want to focus and work the hardest tend to resonate to the front of the room. In the front they can observe their form in the front mirrors and make corrections. I sometimes wish I could automatically turn all of the bikes in cycle as easily as I can rotate my yoga class, (by having them turn on their mats), so that the back row would become the front row. It all makes for interesting dynamics.
I was presenting to a group of technical professionals on perceptions and assumptions in a business setting. I was part of a half day long combined trainings plus meetings for a group that was only together once a quarter. The finance group was presenting after my talk. After I finished, I grabbed my lunch and stayed for part of their presentation before I headed out, on to my next adventure. While I was eating my lunch I observed that there were a few technical females in the room but they were seated in the last rows in the back. The finance group that was presenting also had representation but they were also seated at the back of the room around a round table. I noticed that several of them were texting or checking e-mails on their phone while their co-worker was presenting.
There are a number of reasons people take a back seat at meetings. Some don't want to be called on. Some may not think they have anything to contribute. Others may have work that needs to be done and they don't want to disturb others in the room while they toggle back and forth between listening to the speaker and answering e-mails on their laptop or their device. But the truth is - they aren't totally "there". We are most effective when we are totally present with whomever and whatever we are involved in.
What do you need to do to be more present and effective in your personal and professional life?