Browsing articles from "April, 2016"

Dear Attendee: My Slides Will Not Match the Handouts

Apr 5, 2016   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, DLBlog, Events, Speaking, Training  //  9 Comments

 

Sorry...not sorry

Dear Conference Attendee:

I started out writing this as an apology.  But it’s not.  I’m sorry that it isn’t.  Months ago, I was required to submit my slides to your conference organizers for reasons:

  • there may be a review committee that reviews the content for offensive and unacceptable words, images or demos – and, yes, I’m sad that this is even needed.
  • there may be a review committee that checks to see if I mentioned my own name more than once in the entire deck, even at the end of the deck where I want to tell you can reach out to ask me more if you want to.  Yes, this is a real thing.
  • there may be a review committee that measures font sizes and types to see if they exactly match that of the official conference template, which will be ugly, unreadable, and bullet-point driven, but required for all speakers to use.  Yes, font measuring is a real thing. 
  • there may be a review committee that counts the number of words on a slide and deletes the “extra” words. Yes, this really happened to me.
  • there may be a review committee that fixes all the trademark names.
  • the organizers might have been burnt too many times by speakers who weren’t ready with a slide deck the day of the event—and yes, I am sad this is even needed.
  • the organizers might need to print the handouts of the slides months in advance – so they tell me.

Some of those are great reasons, some of them awful.  But they are reasons the organizers require slide decks to be submitted months in advance of the event.

Stuff Changes

But in those months between the time I submitted the deck and I show up to present, the world has changed.  I say that one day in cloud time is equal to one month in boxed software time.  So 2 months in cloud tech is like a 5 years delay in talking about traditional software and hardware releases.

The products, services and features I am presenting about will have changed.  Their names might have changed.  They may have been bought by another company.  They may have had a new release. They might have new features.  They might have deprecated features.  They may have changed their license agreements.  They might have gone bankrupt. They might have disappeared.  They might have changed their architectures.  Anything and everything might have happened in the months between my deck being uploaded somewhere until the time those pieces of paper are handed out to you upon registration.

I Change, Too

In the weeks between my submitting the slide deck and actually giving the presentation, I think of a great way of presenting a concept. Or I think of a new thing I want to point out.  Or I experience a failure along the way that I want to share.  Don’t get me started on fixing typos or other inaccuracies.  Yes, I know that I shouldn’t make mistakes.  But I do.

Maybe I hear about something I didn’t know about when I did the deck. Maybe I realized that something that was true when I developed the deck is no longer exactly true. The point is, I am constantly thinking abut making my presentations better.

But What About…?

I know some of you are saying “What paper handouts?”  Yes, some conferences still give you printouts on dead trees, especially for half and full-day seminars.  I know you are thinking “Can’t you just send them updated slide decks?”  Yes, I can.  Sometimes that works, most times it does not. Sometimes we speakers are penalized for doing so.

But this happens even with digital decks.  I can send revised slides and sometimes someone on the other end will update the deck produced for download.  Sometimes they will not. We speakers mostly have no control over that.

I’ve also heard about people who completely redo a presentation so that the slides from before aren’t even recognizable.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about a few new slides, some changed ones, maybe some replaced ones.  I want to be able to do that in the 2-3 months between submission time and class time.  I want to make it better for you, the attendee.

I’ve also been asked “Why don’t you just print out new handouts for the attendees?” and “Why don’t you email out the updated slides before the event”.  I have done that for my formal training classes (of course).  But for organized events, I may not have the authority to do that.  At some events the distribution of all materials is forbidden. I also don’t have access to attendee email addresses to distribute them, either.

What I Do to Minimize the Impact of Changes

When I have enhanced my slide deck in those months, I do the following:

  1. Provide the whole current deck on my website for download
  2. Provide the whole new deck on a thumb drive for you to “download” at the event
  3. Provide the organizers with the updated deck
  4. Encourage everyone to learn how to leverage the mark up features of the apps they have on their tablet and laptops.  These are a true timesaver for me.
  5. Describe, while presenting, why there is a new or different slide.

Yes, I know you want the paper copy for taking notes and marking up the deck.  I’m not happy, either, that these decks had to be provided from a 2-3 months ago reality.  I know many of you will be unhappy.  You will mark down my speaker score because I included new slides to show new functionality (this happened to me two years ago at an event). I know you will leave an evaluation rating and comment that my slides should have matched the handout.  I want you to do that if that’s what is important to you.

But I’m not going to apologize for the paper handouts being out of date.  It’s a physics problem.  My only way to fix this is to be able to bend time so that I can see the world as it will be 60-90 days in the future. Trust me: if I could do that, I would be presenting at a much different event.

So cut speakers some slack.  You really do want them to enhance their slides, fix mistakes, update for new information and maybe even make them prettier in the months before the event.  If you have other ideas about how I can make the impact of change easier on you, let me know.

Good speakers want you to learn, have fun doing it AND have something to take home with you to remember what you learned.  Help us help make that happen for you.

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