Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to a Toastamsters newsgroup which operated between 1995 and 2008 and ToastmastersPrime, a Google group which commenced in 2008. This is not an official Toastmasters site, but is an edited collection of posts from the newsgroup and the Google group. These groups provide an unofficial means of communicating for an enthusiastic group of Toastmasters from throughout the world.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Project 8: Visual Aids - technology

Visuals are more than gestures and PowerPoint.
To check out postings on either of these, use the labels below. You may also want to check out other references to Handouts and Flipcharts.

In July 2006 there was a discussion on vsual aids entitled Speech or Presentation.

Where technology is involved, Rod recalled one of the more valuable lessons concerning preparation. Ask yourself what are the things that can go wrong, and what will you do under each set of circumstances. Power failures, computer system failures, microphone failures, all kinds of equipment failure, noisy environments, minor flooding, contaminated food giving everyone 'the runs' during the afternoon sessions, VIPs arriving late or not showing up...

Many of these things may never happen, but knowing what you would do if they did provides a lot of confidence.

I didn't realise I was learning this lesson at the time (I was only 11 years old), but I was given a splendid example of this at a Scout camp. Patrick Moore, the astronomer, was coming to talk to us about the stars. Being in England, it was cloudy and wet and no stars were visible. We went into the barn, where Patrick told us that he's show us some slides of the stars. After the third slide, the projector lamp failed. Fifty years ago this entailed dismantling the projector to fit a new one, but Patrick had both a spare and the tools to change the lamp. About 10 minutes later, there was a huge lightning strike and all the power went off. Patrick produced a torch and a couple of candles. Our Scout leaders found some more candles, and Patrick held 30 small boys absolutely fascinated as he spoke to us about the stars. Even after all these years, I can still relive the experience. I thought I had only learnt something about the stars that evening. It took at least 20 years for me to realise that I'd learnt more than that.

The light output of the projector should be a function of image size (usually measured on the diagonal). It's also very strongly influenced by ambient light levels. If the lights can be dimmed in the conference room, well and good, but this often causes the speaker to disappear into the shadows if the projector lacks the necessary output illumination.

I remember one District conference held in the Grand Hall of a Golf Club. The room had a very high ceiling (about eleven feet at the sides, plus the apex) and was mostly glass facing the outdoors from floor to ceiling on two and a half sides. The thin vertical blinds only covered the bottom six feet to prevent outsiders from looking in. No problem at night, but during the day you might as well have been outside. The projectors and TV monitors that we planned to use couldn't be seen during the day, so we spent the entire previous night with ladders and trestles, taping black plastic sheeting over the glass.

The best option is to use a projector with a lot of illumination power so that it can project bright images above the ambient lighting in the room.

On the other side of the coin, too much power can wash out the projected images on a small screen. Modern projectors can adjust brightness and contrast within limits, but often this isn't enough and it may be necessary to adjust the original images in PowerPoint to suit the circumstances.

Whenever possible, check YOUR slides on the projector/screen combination in the room in which you will be presenting under the likely lighting conditions, and do this well ahead of your presentation so that you have time to make whatever changes are necessary to your slides or choice of equipment.

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