Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Technology Invades the Conference Landscape

--Our panel presentation at the conference on Sunday went very well.  I was pleased with how our ideas worked together, and yet, we were different, both in content and in technology.  I had no Powerpoint presentation, and I was sandwiched between 2 presenters who did.

--I mention that fact because I am struck by how much Powerpoint and Prezzies have become part of the conference landscape.  Once upon a time we wouldn't have counted on the technology being available and working.  Now, we get grumpy when things go wrong.

--If I ever make the shift to presenting with a slide show of some kind, I vow to do a preview of my slides.  I vow to go to the back of the room to see if people can read the print.

--Most of all, I vow to make more slides with less information per slide.  Most of the presentations that I saw on Sunday had FAR TOO MUCH writing on each slide.  It was unreadable from a distance.  There's no need to put every scrap of information on the slide.  That's the point of a presentation, right?  You'll elaborate, right?  We, your audience, will take notes if need be.

--I'm also amazed by how technology has invaded the audience space.  On Sunday in the large sessions, so many people were pecking away on their laptops, tablets, and smart phones.  I'd like to think they were taking notes, but I could see many a screen, and I can report that they were not.

--No, people were checking their e-mail, checking their papers/Powerpoints which they'd present later, working on research for other projects, researching where to eat lunch.  I kept thinking about the astonishingly high cost of the conference ($265 for early registration--I've never paid that much for a conference).  If it bores you, why come?

--I know, I know, there are many reasons.  Still, you don't need to sit in the audience.  It's a beautiful hotel by a beautiful beach.  Go enjoy.

--It's not a great few days to be enjoying the beach.  We've had astonishing winds:  20-40 mph with huge gusts.  Seas are at 12 feet.

--So maybe that's why people stayed put in the conference room.  Or maybe they think they can multitask.

--Is it better to be part of the audience, even when we can't stay focused?  At least our electronics keep us quiet.

--Except for when they don't.  I was astonished when one woman took a call on her cell phone and went to the back of the room.  We could still hear her.  Luckily, someone wrote that fact on a piece of paper and showed it to her.  Luckily, her obliviousness/rudeness was pierced, and she left the room.

--But honestly, it should be a given of modern tech manners:  if you need to talk on the phone, and you're somewhere where someone else has the floor, you need to leave the room.  No matter how softly you think you're speaking, you're still audible, and we'll all notice.  And many of us will think uncharitable thoughts about you.

--One woman told me that she plays Candy Crush Saga on her phone when she needs something to keep her hands busy.  It's certainly more compact than dragging one's knitting everywhere.

--I know that at some point I will break down and buy a smart phone.  I will wonder how I ever lived without it.  I will find it hard to resist the pull of technology, especially if I'm at a meeting/presentation that's less than compelling.

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