Beyond Smoke and Mirrors

Sample ImageImagine a meeting without technology. No screens … no lighting … no microphones … just a presenter and an audience. What would it be like to remove all the technological wiz-bangs and simply have a conversation with an audience?

As a presenter that image is probably horrifying. As an audience member, it would be great … no distractions, just a person sharing ideas and information.

I’m dating myself but I remember a time when video projectors were so dim we had to turn off all the lights just to see the image. It was a time when we used Kodalith slides and Dr. Brown’s dye to add color to slides. There were no moving lights, HD, image magnification, widescreens, wireless microphones or digital mixers. Just a presenter and technology we stole from live theater and rock and roll.

Over my 25+ years in the industry, I’m amazed at how far we’ve come. Today we can do almost anything imaginable in a hotel ballroom. Holograms, animation, streaming video, LED lighting, haze, projection mapping and auto-mixers are readily available to anyone with a budget. It seems like every day brings a new black box or technical innovation that blurs the line between imagination and reality.

But what is the true cost of all this technology? Do we still know how to effectively educate, motivate and communicate with an audience?

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. I began my career in technical theater and I love how technology has removed the limits of our imagination. But I’m also passionate about communication and delivering a message to an audience. That’s why they come to our events. If we are not communicating effectively, then all the time, manpower, resources and money are simply wasted.

Next time you see or rehearse a presentation, ask yourself, “If there were no technology, would this presentation still have meaning to the audience? Are we having a conversation?”

The answer may surprise you.

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