Filed under: Conferences & presentations
There are generally-accepted principles of what it takes to be a good (or even great) presenter. One of these is to get out from behind the podium, to stand in front of (or amongst) the audience. To either project your voice, or to use a wireless microphone if the room is too large.
Having spent a bit of time at several major conferences over the last month, I ask: why do all the rooms always have a podium for the speaker, or a table for the panel to sit behind?
Conference organisers can do more to help people to be better presenters, therefore benefiting participants. My suggestions:
- Eliminate the podium entirely, with its wired microphone.
- Create a place for presenters to place their laptops in front of them, beside the data projector.
- Provide presenters with a simple wireless mouse (or equivalent), allowing them to manage their presentations without having to go to their laptop.
- Eliminate the table for panels. Get everyone to stand, generating greater energy, and allowing the speakers to project better (it’s hard when sitting at a desk!).
The nicest approach I saw was at the Act-KM conference in Canberra last year. The keynote speakers were up on a raised podium in front of a large room, and were setup with a wireless microphone. The nice thing was that a large plasma display was setup at the feet of the front row of the audience, allowing the speaker to glance at their presentation without having to turn away from the audience. This worked extremely well, and made presenting much more enjoyable (and hopefully more effective).
So in summary: too many conferences lack energy, and perhaps some of this can be slated to the restrictive setup of the rooms that encourages presenters to hide behind the podium or front table. So how about we take away these props and see how we go?