Thursday, October 23, 2014

'Pay no attention to the person behind the curtain – er, whiteboard'

Have you seen the latest trend in conference presentations? As the speaker holds forth from the podium, a graphic recorder interprets the message with drawings and other visual elements on a whiteboard off to the side.

Now, I wouldn't want to deny your average struggling artist a paying gig, but my problem with the technique is the same as the one I have with the Powerpoint: rather than focusing attention on the speaker, we risk distracting the audience. There's less of a chance of this if the whiteboard is turned so the audience can't see what the artist is drawing, but it might be better not seeing the artist at all.

Frankly, if the whiteboard commentary offers a benefit to the speaker, it is afterward. The visual summary could reinforce the message for audience members and also show passing conferees what they missed. In fact, after thanking the speaker, the conference host could invite the artist – I mean, graphic recorder – to roll out the whiteboard and take a bow.

For speaker and artist it's a win-win.

No comments: