I go to conferences as part of my job. One trick I found to staying awake is to sit in the front row, running the risk of embarrassing myself should my mind wander off the speaker. (For the same reason I sit in the front row at church.) The conference I just attended was especially boring for all the reasons you read about in those books that tell you how to do presentations at conferences:
- Non-interaction: Each speaker spoke for 30 minutes without offering any interaction with the audience. Not one speaker tried to bring the audience into the conversation. See photo above.
- The abuse of Powerpoint: Slides were overwhelmingly complex. One slide held the acronyms POM, TCIDS, AN, ISR, c4, TTNT, MADL, ACC, AEHF, IFOG, JSS, AD, and JTRS. The very next slide had just as many. No one offered an explanation. And to boot, the speaker read the slide to the audience, verbatim.
I learn a lot from these conferences – in particular, how not to do presentations. There are a number of good websites that speak to the abuse of Powerpoint in particular, and many lessons can be gleaned from these sites about how to make presentations both enjoyable and memorable for their audiences. These speakers would’ve done better with just a little homework.
I picked a bad year to give up caffeine.