Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wandering Speakers: Just Don't Do It!

Twice in the last three months I’ve sat through presentations where the speaker felt the need to wander throughout a large room (200+ folks at dinner tables) while giving a talk. 

That’s an awful, awful habit as far as I’m concerned.  It’s disconcerting to be reading something from the slides, then spend 30 seconds trying to find the speaker in the large room because they think it’s cool to either a) go walkabout or b) play some variation of “Where’s Waldo?”.  In both cases the speakers were otherwise giving a fairly good presentation (too many bullet slides, but that’s beside the point) and I started to tune out because I lost connection with them.

Don’t get me wrong.  Giving your presentation while stapled to your podium or table is also an awful habit, but you shouldn’t be meandering so far that your audience can’t quickly move from watching you to looking at your presentation.

There’s a nice balance involved in moving around while talking.  Casual wandering near your screen or stage is good.  Hanging out in the back corner of a large room?  Not so much.


Matt Casto said...

It reminds me of a high school teacher who is wandering to the back of the room to wake up a student who has fallen asleep. I find it very strange in the setting you're describing.

Michael said...

I would wander while teaching at a local community college, but as someone else mentioned, the room was quite a bit smaller and my audience was only 20 people. Besides, there's nothing better than catching those snoozing students off guard. ;-)

I do agree that in a larger room with a couple hundred people it's really not a cool thing to do.

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