There are few things more frustrating than setting time aside for someone or a group of people who then fail to show up. You may have prepared work or rehearsed for a performance in advance and you spend your time when you should be meeting them in a curious limbo with one eye on the clock. You daren’t start anything that requires focused concentration in case they do actually turn up and interrupt what you’re doing. If you’ve prepared work, it sits there without comment and unfinished. If you’ve rehearsed for a performance, it’s demoralising facing a reduced audience because people who promised to show didn’t turn up. When the no-shows fail to send apologies afterwards, it feels like a double blow: not only did they not turn up but they didn’t value your time enough to acknowledge it had been wasted.
Naturally emergencies occur or transport breaks down and, individually, some no-shows have good reasons for not being there and an after-the-event apology isn’t just a courtesy, it’s an acknowledgement someone was inconvenienced. No-shows don’t include those who signed up for an event or agreed to a meeting but warned the organiser that due to disabilities/health issues/transport/caring responsibilities, they may not be able to be there, because the organiser has been given chance to make contingency arrangements.
When one or two individuals become a group of no-shows who can’t be bothered to send apologies either, they need to bear in mind:
- They are now labelled as time-wasters and will be treated accordingly
- If someone has prepared work in advance of a meeting, they won’t be inclined to do such a good job or dedicate as much time to preparation if another meeting is arranged
- If an event organiser has to deal with performers who are no-shows, those won’t be asked to perform again
- If a workshop organiser is left hurriedly finding stand ins, you can bet the people who didn’t show up won’t be asked again
- If the no-shows are members of a club or group and other club/group members managed to turn up, the no-shows are embarrassments and may harm the reputation of the club/group concerned
- If someone regularly organises opportunities for other writers to perform or showcase their work, the no-shows are limiting their chances of taking up those opportunities
- If someone organises opportunities for other writers puts on their own performance but then finds that people who promised to show up don’t, the organiser is less likely to bother with further events
- Most local live literature events are organised by a volunteer or team of volunteers who will be less willing to give their time if their events are unsupported.
I regularly attend several writers’ groups and spoken work nights and also organise events both as myself and on behalf of other groups. There are some writers I know who enthusiastically sign up for performances or make promises to attend and I don’t believe them because, from experience, they won’t show up (this excludes those who say they may be there but can’t guarantee attendance). I also know when other organisers have been inconvenienced by no-shows. I have also been embarrassed when an organiser who knows I represent a writers’ group asks me where members of that group who’d signed up to perform don’t show up.
Be professional, be courteous and don’t underestimate the power of an apology, even after the event. If you find spoken word nights stop running, you don’t get invitations to perform or there are fewer opportunities for you to perform in your locality, ask if you contributed to that situation.