The Overhead Projector
post # 350 — April 10, 2007 — a Careers, Client Relations post
I have had some questions about why, in my videocasts, I am shown using an old-fashioned light-bulb overhead projector (OHP), even for presentations to large audiences. Some people ask whether it doesnâ€™t present an unprofessional, out-of-date image.
To this day, in all my presentations, I ask for the overhead projector as a matter of choice, because it is the best technology I know to minimize the barrier between me and the audience.
By writing on blank plastic sheets with the projector, I can create â€œlistsâ€ in front of people, drawing the answers out from them, even if I already know what I want the list to contain. The session thus becomes more Socratic and interactive.
Even if I am not being so interactive, and am making my own points, the act of writing them down in front of people lends some drama and â€œtheaterâ€ to the proceedings, allowing me to keep the presentation lively.
Contrast this with the all-too-common approach of having prepared slides, in a fixed order, and rigidly walking the audience through what you have decided they should listen to. Thatâ€™s no way to â€œconnect.â€
A wise mentor once told me that, in making a presentation (or in teaching) you can focus on one of three things: your material (letâ€™s get through this), yourself (ainâ€™t I great?), or the audience (what do you want to ask about?)
Guess which is most valuable?
Which leads to the final virtue of the old-fashioned OHP: If someone in the audience asks â€œBut what about this other perspective?â€, you can quickly throw on to the OHP any prepared slides you have on the topic. You donâ€™t need to scroll through tens (or hundreds) of computer based-Powerpoint slides to find the one you need.
An OHP and a collection of prepared plastic sheets allow you â€œrandom accessâ€ to your material, thereby enabling you to truly customize your remarks (and your performance) to the specific people in front of you.