Speakers have it tough. They have to present interesting content in an engaging manner, overcome distractions and hope they catch audiences in a receptive mood. Now add to that audiences Tweeting on their handhelds (or checking email), a practice clearly on the upswing. As someone who has witnessed this both from the podium and the audience, I see risk in Tweeters missing the meaning or the next point, and it’s distracting to other audience members.
I’ve also seen speakers use hashtags and develop Q&A from Tweets they receive at a presentation. So, there is an upside, but the question remains: It is rude for audience members to do this, or an honor to have a speaker’s words Tweeted live? More distractions may be the new reality, but nose rings can still be left at the door.