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The danger of public presentations

The hazard of using new technology in a public presentation is that it doesn't always work as planned.

Steven Holden, a senior principal at SRAT Touchstone, found that out the hard way at the General Services Administration's Interagency Resources Management Conference. Serving as the facilitator at a lunchtime session on "Mythbusting," Holden used ivoted.com, a website that provides real-time survey results. In response to questions, the audience sends answers via text message, Twitter or e-mail, and the site updates bar charts in real time as the answers come in.

Except in Holden's first try, nothing happened. Fearing the audience had misunderstood the directions, he asked if they were clear on what to do. When most of them stayed huddled over their devices, he prompted them: "If yes, move your head up and down. If no, move your head side to side. [Pause for response and still getting none] ... I see mass confusion."

The problem turned out to be a simple one, though, having nothing to do with the audience's grasp of the instructions, and the show went on without any further hitches.

Posted on Mar 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM


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