This week Google introduced it’s Nexus One smartphone and Nancy Duarte commented on the MSNBC reporters who had universally negative comments about the presentation that was done to introduce the phone (see Nancy’s blog post here
). When you read her post, take some time to watch the video and more importantly see the pictures from the event on Boy Genius Report here
I agree that the presenter could have had more energy, more preparation, etc. But I want to address one issue that the MSNBC commentators flagged as particularly awful. They talk about the “overhead projector” that was used. Look at the pictures. There is no overhead projector. It is a document camera. A document camera projects live video of what you place in the viewing area below the camera and can be used very effectively during a presentation to do a physical demonstration.
Let’s look at this presentation situation. You are introducing an object that is physically small in size. To enable everyone to see it, you have a few options. First, you can try to hold it up in the air but since it is small, chances are that not many people will be able to see any detail that you are trying to show them.
Second, you can take photos or video of the object in action and play those from your computer onto the screen so everyone can see them clearly. This is a good option to enable clear viewing, but sometimes you want the demonstration to be live to boost proof of what the device can do in real situations. Some audiences have become sceptical of recorded demonstrations or photos because they can be digitally altered.
So the third option is to use a document camera to project live video of you using the object. The image is large enough for everyone to see, and it allows you to have the live aspect that builds credibility. This is the option that Google chose.
How could they have improved the use of a document camera? I have two thoughts. First, it was placed on a table that was too high. The tabletop was above the presenter’s waist and the top of the document camera was about at his nose. With the table and camera too high, it creates a barrier between the presenter and the audience, which makes it hard for the audience to connect to what the presenter is saying. Move the document camera onto a lower table that doesn’t block the presenter.
Next, only use a prop when you need to. There is no reason that the table with the document camera needed to be on stage the entire time. It could be off to one side and used only when needed. When you are projecting a demonstration, you are not the focus of the audience, so move off to the side to use the device and provide narration of the demonstration from there.
What lessons can you learn from this presentation? First, using a live demonstration can increase credibility, so consider whether a recorded demonstration is actually better than a live showing. Second, make sure that you have not created physical barriers between you and your audience. Get rid of podiums and high tables that prevent the real connection between presenter and audience that is necessary for great presentations. And third, be deliberate about where the focus of the audience should be at different times during the presentation. Just like you would use a black slide to focus the attention on you, know when to step out of the way and let the visual communicate part of the message.