Keep the focus on the presenter using logos and darkness

by Dan Bond on 28th February, 2013

The dawn chorus of the conference and event industry was visually supported by 35mm slides.  Product photography was expensive but so were even simple text slides, and charts were even more.  If you wanted something a little more interesting, 3-D may be, it was more again and it all took time. There were upsides to all the faffing around with slides; budgets limited the number of slides and the process forced speakers to plan ahead and being slow to state your slide requirement had a serious cost implication.

So as a result of limited time and money compromises had to be made. Logos slides were frequently duplicated and dropped in where a slide was not deemed to be essential. This meant, because logo slides were not particularly interesting, that the focus remained on the presenter. Some speakers and event producers preferred a black/blank slide so that screen disappeared into darkness, once again forcing the focus back to the presenter.

Try this approach today! Logo slides can be used (or simple images) to ensure the focus remains on the speaker or the screen can be blanked on the computer keyboard or using a remote. The advantage to this approach is that when you do show a slide with content the audience will be sure to focus on it. That said I would recommend that you don’t just put slides up and talk about them. Instead talk about the ideas the slide contains and then use the slide as a summary of the ideas or information. When you put the slide up give the audience time to look at it and talk through the content of the slide, when you’re certain everyone has absorbed the content remove it. This can be done by going to black/logo or maybe a very simple slide that only contains two words or a number that represent the key element to be remembered.

I learned the technique of talking about a subject before illustrating it from an art expert who took me around the National Portrait Gallery. Instead of telling me about the paintings as we stood in front of them he gave me a short lesson in what to look out for before we entered each room. I then went to look at the paintings. This hugely increased my enjoyment because I was able to focus on the pictures and identify key details for myself. I am sure your audiences will find this method much more engaging than the old-fashioned talk and point from start to finish. Try it sometime.


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