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A Dialog with the Audience

On Friday, I had the pleasure to talk with some librarians from the Southwest Wisconsin Library System on the topic of Blogging @ Your Library. Although the talk was centered around my Powerpoint presentation, it was the dialog with the attendees that really made the program, I thought.

Ironically enough, it was a technical glitch with the network that forced me to pause my presentation and engage these women in a conversation about themselves, their patrons, and how they hoped that a blog might create a bridge between them. When, finally, the network was restored, I was able to speak directly to their questions and concerns - within the structure of my Powerpoint presentation.

As presenters, we always hope for this kind of a connection with our audience. And now that I've got a fair number of presentations under my belt, I think I finally understand the secret: audience interaction.

You were hoping for something more profound? Sorry. It sounds like a no brainer, but it's a concept that a lot of presenters just don't get.

This is a concept that was really brought home to me at BlawgThink. As a speaker, they asked me not to use Powerpoint. Not use Powerpoint? I'd always used Powerpoint. What was wrong with Powerpoint?

I think I know now. Taken away from it, I realized how easy it was to use Powerpoint as a crutch to carry me through my presentations. My attention was directed at my Powerpoint, instead of where it should have been: my audience. I think a lot of speakers do this. I suspect that the BlawgThink organizers had figured this out, too.

Don't get me wrong - there is nothing inherently wrong with Powerpoint. I still plan to use it when I speak - not as a crutch, but as a tool for structuring the dialog with my audience.