The chances are high that you have assisted to a big conference room where a presentation was being held in front of a large audience. Maybe you even have presented yourself. In either case, you probably recognized an interesting pattern: a large percentage of the questions being addresses to the presenter, if not all of them, comes mainly from the first rows of the public. Why? Some might argue that the more distracted members of the audience like to sit in the back rows to have a chat with their neighbors, and this sometimes might be a consequence, but not the cause. The source of the problem lies majorly in the lower level of attention paid by distant audience members. However, not due to voluntary distractions, but mainly due to perceptive constraints. Many of this viewers really want to pay attention, that`s why they assisted the speech in the first place, but the bad audio and visual conditions prevent them from doing it.
Without visual aids, the audience gets distracted
Some keynote speakers like to present without visual aids. This might work for motivational speeches or abstract topics, but it is a fact that using slides or similar visual means not only help catching the eye of the audience, but also allow them to better digest the message being transmitted. Imagine a long economics lesson at the university without visual aids and just a professor scribbling formulas on a board many meters away from you…
The main goal of a presenter is to transmit his message clearly to the public, to share his knowledge in the best manner possible with his audience. This, of course, is practically impossible when the viewers cannot follow the presentation. Unfocused viewers then look for distractions that end up in a chain reaction and the infamous background chatting. Visual aids are ideal to avoid this, but such tools are useless if a large part of the public finds themselves far away from the screen, on a bad angle towards the beamer, behind a person twice as tall or just forgot their glasses, to mention a few cases. This gets even worse if member of the audience cannot even hear the speaker, due to poorly constructed rooms or general chatter in his surroundings. If the viewer is faced with this situation, for a presentation that will be one hour long, you cannot blame him for recurring to his smartphone or his seat partner.
How can you address a large audience?
It is a fact that as a presenter there will be many cases where you cannot change the physical conditions of the auditory where you are presenting. Sure, if it is an aula where you usually present at the university, you might suggest the acquisition of a larger screen, but this solves (if at all) the problem just for the one room. And the rest of your presentations? A common solution to make sure your public can view your presentation is to share the slides with them. Many speakers tend to do this in form of paper handouts before the presentation. This is not only costly, but also represents a large waste of paper. Moreover, viewers do not want to be bothered with bulky paper pamphlets.
Digital is the way to go
By sharing your presentations slides on a digital format you protect the environment, avoid tedious handout distributions, provide a comfortable solution for your public and ensure that everyone will have access to your presentation. Or do you? Well it depends on how you proceed. Sharing it via email will certainly not ensure you that everyone will have access to it, since we are talking about a large audience and to address each member via a mailing system would be certainly complicated. Plus, the public would have access to your whole presentation even before it takes place. The same goes for online portals. You could use a personalized portal or website to share it with the public afterwards, but this does not solve the concentration problem during the presentation. However, if you choose a live presentation tool such as Beamium you can share your presentation live with your audience on their end devices, so that they can not only download it after the presentation, but also view it live on their smartphones, tablets or laptops, slide by slide, while you present and not before. Whichever solution you choose you have to do it based not only on what better suits you, but also every single member of you audience. Always keep your audience in mind and the success of your presentation will be guaranteed.
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