An oldie but a goodie. I wrote this almost two years ago to the day. I’ve decided to resurrect it. If you haven’t seen it before, hope you enjoy. Call it a rant, manifesto, or a plea – it’s something I think still rings true.
Dear Conference Hosts,
Please, stop killing our presentations. We spend weeks, months, even years (I’m living proof) designing and creating our presentations. Our backgrounds, colors, fonts, images and layout are all chosen with a purpose. There’s a reason we don’t put our logo, web site, and tagline on every single slide. I don’t mind sending you my presentation in advance, but not for you to squeeze it into your template and print it for every attendee to see. Your demands are killing our presentations.
First, we designed our presentation in such a way that it would be visually engaging and appealing to our audience. Each and every pixel is important to us, especially when many of those pixels are part of simple white space. Your template, which is often quite ugly (it’s the truth, sorry), destroys the integrity and effectiveness of our slide. It also breaks the layout and distracts the viewer from what is important. Many of my images are supposed to take up the entire slide. Many of my slides don’t have titles, and those that do don’t necessarily have them exactly where you want them. I realize that for some strange reason you think that branding everyone’s slide with the conference logo and other stuff will somehow help your brand recognition, but it’s only making the experience less memorable, less enjoyable, and more distracting for your paying attendees.
Second, all of your presenters have a different story to tell (hopefully). Because of this, each of us deserves a chance to be original. We want to offer them something they’ll always remember, and often that is embedded within our PowerPoint designs. By forcing all of us to design our presentations within your template, you’re stripping away our individuality and our identity. It’s like dressing your sextuplets in the exact same clothes. All the children are trying to be as original as possible, and it’s tough enough that we’re all on the same stage, on the same day, at the same conference. Don’t make us wear the same clothes too. How is anyone going to be able to tell us apart?
Third, please don’t print our presentations in advance. It’s okay to offer your attendees a big notebook for them to take notes, and I’d be happy to provide a take-away document covering many of the points I made in my presentation after I’ve finished presenting. However, my slides have a story. Would you watch a movie and demand that the script be provided to you in advance? Why go to the movie? Why not just read the script? Your attendees want a story. They don’t want to know the end. They want to wonder what’s next. Don’t ruin it for them, and for me. My jokes aren’t as funny when you tell everyone the punchline.
Finally, you owe it to your audience to heed my advice. They are your paying customers. They are attending because they want to learn something. They want to come away with enough valuable information that they can justify shelling out another few hundred (or even thousand) dollars next year. They don’t care about your logo. They don’t want everyone’s templates to look the same. They want to be surprised. They want a chance to remember everyone’s stories. They are there to listen, engage and learn. You put the show together. You are NOT the actual show. So please, stay behind the curtain. You can talk about yourself at the beginning and end, but don’t force my presentations to be your commercial.