This isn’t a real post, it’s just a bit too long for Twitter, so I’m thinking out aloud here.
Inspired by this tweet by Dan Cuthbert
I absolutely agree with Dan that we sometimes need to look at the content we have and consider the best medium through which it should be shared or presented. Conferences are one way, but there’s also YouTube, podcasts, writing a blog, a white paper, in fact, if one were so inclined they could also make a music video.
There are so many modern tools available that can help you present in different ways. If you have good handwriting and a good concept, maybe you can get a flipboard and just draw out your presentation as you go through it; or go retro with an overhead projector.
Dan also hit the nail on the head with a format I’d definitely love to see,
But this is a two-way street
The thing is that we can’t just say to presenters “become more interesting and engaging” and expect that to be the end of it. Conference organisers need to meet them half way. As a speaker, simply knowing the room layout in advance would be a great help.
For example, let the speakers know the size of the room, where the audience will be, will there be a stage, or are you pacing on the floor, is there a podium? Can it be moved? Where is the screen, is it a projector or a TV? Is there one, or many around the room? What is the microphone situation like? Can I play videos or music during the presentation? Will I get reliable internet connectivity? Do you have a spotlight or changing lights?
You may be thinking that this sounds like the list of demands of a diva, but I assure you, I’m not trying to be a diva. What I’m saying is that for the most part while the speaker is getting mic’d up, the AV person is asking questions like, “Can I run this down your shirt?” “Do you walk around at all?” “Hope you’re not playing any videos” (the mic situation is apparently a lot worse for ladies who may not have anywhere to clip it on to).
The point is that the more things we can work out in advance, the better the speakers can tailor their talk for that environment.
For example, Thom Langford and I once discussed a concept about doing a presentation where we would say something, but behind us on the slides, thought bubbles would pop up. e.g. I’d say something like, “It’s important to know all of your assets.” and on the screen behind me a thought bubble pops up that says, “Even though I don’t know how many phones I have at home”
You can see it would be a very different type of presentation. The problem we found was that unless you know for certain there’s a screen behind you, and you know the resolution, and that there’s enough room on the stage, it just won’t work – and that will end up looking a lot worse than if you just opted for a vanilla powerpoint deck.
Maybe it’s time to be like Apple, be brave, have “courage” and remove the headphone jack. I don’t really know what the answer is, but as we’ve gotten to so many conferences, it’s about time we start taking it up a level. And when I say “we”, I mainly mean “you” I’m quite content for the most part with my little youtube channel!