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Headset Etiquette

February 29, 2012

So, you’ve survived college, rocked your internship, buffed your resume, applied for every single job posting that you’re even remotely qualified for, and finally landed your first real-world professional gig…what are you going to do next?!

College is full of wonderful adventures and learning experiences with a tight-knit bunch of Drama Majors. When you work with the same group of people for 4+ years, inside jokes are formed, indescribable friendships happen, you learn a lot and have a ton of fun.  In this “real world,” it is extremely rare – especially as you start out – that you work with the same crew of people from gig to gig.  The Theatre Industry attracts the same artistic and fun individuals, most of whom were once part of a tight-knit bunch of Drama Majors at various colleges throughout the country.  Yes, jeans and even graphic tees are usually appropriate attire for work; it’s acceptable to eat during production meetings; skype-ing into meetings while at another gig – or at home – is the norm; you drink with/joke with/date/marry your colleagues; but despite all of these seemingly lax practices, this is a career that requires professionalism.

It’s hard sometimes to see where the line is between being understanding/having fun while still working and being unprofessional.  One of the most common inconsistencies I’ve discovered is Headset Etiquette.  Now, there are no definite rules, and much of this varies depending on the lead the Production Stage Manager gives, but below are my tips for what I would consider general Headset Etiquette that’s applicable to all situations:

  1. If the show is too busy to give cues proper standby calls, absolutely no unnecessary chatter on headset.
  2. No one, no matter what, should ever use the word “go” in any conversation on headset except the PSM when calling a cue. [The most standard replacements for “go” on headset are “fish” and “G-O” as in “Fish to the dressing room and grab her wig” or “G-O to the dressing room and grab her wig”]
  3. No chatter between a “Standby” and a “Go” [note: PSMs, give “Standbys” at an appropriate time; about 30 seconds before the “go”]
  4. When necessary to go off headset, always say “[name or position] Off Headset!” and if possible wait for a “thank you” or acknowledgement from the PSM before taking the headset off. [Likewise say “[name or position] On Headset!” when you return, however listen for a few seconds to make sure you wouldn’t be speaking on top of the PSM’s called cue]  Also, when you leave your headset unattended, turn the volume down and close your channel!
  5. Close your channel when eating/drinking/sneezing/coughing/snoring/yelling/speaking to someone off-headset…it’s just the polite thing to do.
  6. Don’t constantly fiddle with your microphone, the sound is unbearable.
  7. Don’t be on your phone [or try turning it to airplane mode if you must beat that level of angry birds].  It is fact (not fiction) that an incoming message or call – even on silent mode – may cause annoying disturbance in the headsets.
  8. Don’t chew gum.  Please.

Anyone have anything to add to the “dos” and “don’ts” of Being on Headset?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2012 10:35 pm

    Good tips, Practical Artist! These bring me back to my days on crew during Mother Courage at Salem State. Such good times, but headset etiquette most definitely applied!

  2. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    March 3, 2012 3:44 pm

    Thanks for the tips!

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