Friday, April 20, 2012

Who are you facing when you give a presentation?

Beth MacNeil Stinson wrote a recent post about a presentation gone awry. I encourage you to read her post, which detailed a number of issues with the presentation in question - the presenter was making negative comments about the attendees' employers, the demonstration was unscripted, the demonstration didn't work, and the balance of lecture vs. demo was wrong.

But I want to concentrate on one of the problems with the presentation.

The presenter sat with her back to the audience to drive the avatar during the demo, so her voice was muffled. The audience immediately tuned out and the presenter had no way of knowing that most of us were now checking email and whispering back and forth.

The entire day was devoted to virtual worlds, and it appears that the presenter was well versed in the topic. Perhaps too well versed, when you consider that the presenter was paying attention to the virtual world rather than the physical world around her.

This is a common issue in presentations. Presenters, including myself, often want to focus our attention on the demonstration, or on the slides (the dreaded "slide reading"). But we forget that we are presenting to people.

I recently wrote about churches that perform to the camera rather than directly to the people in the church, but at least in that instance the goal of the church is to present to the people - just through an intermediate means.

It's better to turn your face to a camera than to turn to a projected PowerPoint slide or to a computer screen.

P.S. Speaking of presentations, you might want to check out the work of Michael Alley. I mentioned him in this post.
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