Audience Etiquette

What is audience etiquette? Audience etiquette "is the acceptable audience behavior for a music, dance or drama performance".

Today, there’s a wealth of entertainment offered in widely differing settings, but the following fundamentals of good audience behavior are adaptable to virtually any situation:


  • No talking, unless audience participation is requested by the performers. If something must be said, whisper it quickly. Excessively shushing a talkative neighbor can be just as disturbing.
  • Use good posture. Auditorium seating is often arranged so that the person in the seat behind can see between the two seats in front, so slumping sideways or lounging on a partner’s shoulder blocks the view.
  • Remove hats. If your hat is part of your outfit, you can keep it on as long as it doesn’t block anyone’s view.
  • Noises off. Turn off cell phones, beepers, audible watches, and any other sound-making gadgets before any performance.
  • Lights out. Don’t forget, the screen on your mobile device can be a distraction too.
  • Control coughing. Muffle coughs and sneezes with a handkerchief. Cough drops and mints may be helpful, but leave if you can’t stop the attack.
  • Avoid sounds that can disturb the people around you and the performers. Munching noisily, smacking or cracking gum, rattling the pages of programs, tapping feet or drumming fingers, humming or singing along, rummaging in purses—these are just a few of the things that can annoy those around you.
  • Don’t use flash photos or shoot video during live performances. The point is to do nothing that will distract the performers or disturb others in the audience.
  • Dispose of trash, including chewed gum, in waste containers. Tell a user or attendant if anything was spilled, as a courtesy to the next person who has your seat.
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