Nowadays you can throw a presentation together at the last minute, whether it be a holiday slideshow for family, a talk to the local U3A group or a presentation to a scientific congress. You can also hide suspect content behind sound effects and jazzy transitions. You can embed videos, documents and links to websites. Gone are the days when you had to prepare your presentation well in advance and send ideas or photographs off for conversion to physical slides.
Nowadays you can put your presentation together on the train or in your hotel over breakfast, turn up to a venue, plug in your memory stick and go. However, I have known a presenter lose said stick and be left to stand in front of an audience and just talk and I have to say I have never listened to a presentation so intently.
But even this scenario doesn’t compare to the stress of using slides in a carousel. You have spent a lot of time getting your presentation just so and back from the graphics department in time despite warnings of a backlog. You’re happy that they have interpreted your scribble and diagrams correctly. You’ve checked and double checked that they are in the exact order required and the right way round.
You turn up to the venue pleased with your efforts but still can’t relax. You hand over your carousel to the protectionist and wait in the wings for your turn at the podium. Instead of concentrating on delivering your content you fidget, worrying that he has spilled the carousel and put the slides back in, in any random order because he hasn’t got time to fetch you.
You walk to the podium, you get the thumbs up from the protectionist that all is well and still can’t relax. You know it’s going to happen, it might be the first slide, it might be in the middle, it might be the very last slide but it will happen.
You start your presentation, the nerves about knowing your stuff gone, you’re up there for a reason, you know something about something that you’re audience doesn’t. But still you can’t relax, you know it’s going to happen. The presentation is going well, you’re in the zone, you have the audience captivated and nod for the protectionist to advance to your WOW slide, the one that shows the culmination of all your hard work, the one that reveals your jaw-dropping results.
You aren’t expecting laughter! You turn nervously and instead of a clear, crisp image there is a blurred, off-kilter mess up on the screen. The carousel gods have struck at the worst possible moment. You wait a little while, hoping he’ll sort the problem, get a shake of the head and know you just have to muddle along to the end. You fumble with your notes giving yourself a minute to compose yourself and carry on.
Is the enthusiastic round of applause at the end due to the remarkable data presented, the competent presentation style or merely the fact that you’ve gone up against the carousel and survived at least!
Image with thanks to Ruth E. Hendricks Photography