How Not to Engage an Audience - A Case Study

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It was a bit sad to see the usual prejudice about the abilities (or inabilities) of people in the public sector being confirmed. I attended an information session about the city's participatory budget recently. I'm going to document the progression of the session below, pointing out the problems and suggest what could have been done better. See if any of this seems familiar (to you or to sessions you attended).

Why picking the right visuals is important

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I attended a technical presentation recently. It was intended to give an overview of a certain technology. To my delight, the speaker used an approach that I usually suggest to people for this kind of talk: For the part of the presentation where he explained the background and the benefits of the technology in question, he was using full-screen photos. When he came to actually showing what it can do, he did short demos, showed code and, yes, even used some bullet points appropriately (to list features and data). So, a good example of a modern technical presentation?

At first glance, yes. But the selection of photos bothered me.

Can you deliver what you promised?

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I can't be the only one this has happened to: I want to submit a talk for a Call for Papers for a conference. The conference is quite some time in the future, I think it's interesting and I want to attend, so I submit something that I think I can talk about. Some time passes, the talk gets accepted, some more time passes and it's about time to start working on that promised talk.

And that is when the trouble starts, because suddenly I realise that it doesn't quite work out as originally planned and submitted.

I know that I'm not entirely alone with this problem, since I do occasionally hear speakers at conferences admit that they had the same problem while preparing their talk. So if this happens to others, too, do we have a problem here?

The Expert's Dilemma

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I remember reading a story about the successful founder of a startup who often got asked to talk about how he did it. He was happy to share his experience but soon ended up talking more about how to run a startup than actually running one.

Can you still be considered an expert on something if you are no longer doing it?