Death by powerpoint


More than 80% of delegates do not engage with today’s conference content, so say researchers.

Conference organisers across the board need to update their approach to fully engage delegates attending live meetings and conferences if the results of this survey are to be believed.

The survey also states that 82% of the delegates who responded admitted that they failed to fully engage with the conference content put on for their benefit.

It is apparent that the traditional content of your average conference needs to change and change quickly in favour of more creative and interactive methods.

Exciting new soft wear is available, (see our article (“Are your presentations boring.”) but it appears that the majority of presenters will either not invest in the new software or are not prepared to pay out for their presentations to be properly produced by multimedia experts.Quite what advice one can offer to today’s presenters, if these facts are correct, is difficult, except to ask them to survey past delegates asking for their honest opinions about the presentation content they were subjected to.

There is so much comment in this industry, past and present, about what delegates have had to suffer and are still suffering today during presentations that is beyond belief that the message has not sunk home.

The solutions are out there, so really, there are no excuses. The survey goes on to say, and this is pretty obvious, “Delegates are often left bored and looking for excuses to escape” another pretty damming piece of evidence states that even if the delegates have an interest in the content of the presentation they are often too shy to participate or ask a question for which they seek an answer, presenters please take note!!!

Another interesting observation from the survey states that 48% of respondents said they felt reluctant to contribute to discussions or ask a question in case they got it wrong or they felt fearful of being the centre of attention.

Does this mean that some presenters are failing to relate and engage their audiences? Maybe the art of presenting successfully is on the decline or just maybe not enough money is being spent on tuition. There are many excellent and successful tutors in the country who can train and coach those wishing to present well in all aspects of speaking to and addressing a live audience. It is an art and one that should never be underestimated.

Another worrying fact to emerge from the survey was that almost half of the respondents said their interest in attending live events was based on the chance to socialise with colleagues and peers, while only 18% viewed events as an opportunity to learn and develop core skills. 

42% of those surveyed admitted to writing shopping lists instead of taking notes, 18% confessed to faking urgent telephone calls to make an early exit and a further 23% said they had taken deliberately long bathroom breaks to help pass the time.

In order to stem this growing discontent surrounding the contents of conferences which. let’s face it, has not changed significantly in decades, planners and presenters must start to incorporate fun, interactivity and delegate driven content into their meetings.

Another staggering fact to emerge was that 47% of respondents admitted to accessing their social media networks during presentations on an hourly basis. This therefore must create an opportunity for businesses and organisations to capitalise on the use of social media as a forum to facilitate agenda creation before the event, shape possible content during the event and provide an interesting and acceptable platform for feedback post event.

Will business and organisations take note of the facts coming from this survey? one can only speculate and hope. If they do, they will find a wealth of new tools and tactics available to them to redress the “death by PowerPoint” approach currently favoured by many across a broad range of sectors.

An overwhelming 32% of respondents said that their limit of total engagement was less than 30 mins, so there is no point delivering slide after slide of important and potentially vital information if it falling on a room of deaf ears.

For start, would it not be a good idea to connect with more delegates today to introduce a RSVP process using on-line registration platforms, also involve delegates in deciding content and asking questions in real time using social media.

Next, one could move onto using iPads or tablets within a conference environment, both of which are now well established in domestic and commercial markets. By using an iPad intelligently there are many ways that delegates can be involved, thus enhancing the many benefits gained from bringing them together in the first place.

Here are just a few of the many applications an iPad/Tablet can be used at a conference: –


Stream Presentations           Ask a Question                     Post a Comment

Announce Changes             Breakout Planning               Pre/Post Questionnaire

Interactive Voting                Voting Results                       Feed Back    

Competitions                        Agenda Viewing                  Viewing Table Plans

Note Taking                          Event Material                      Presenter Profiles

 There are many more ways for putting iPads/tablets – even smart phones to use, so think positively about these new applications when the time comes for you to update your approach to your next conference. Smart phones and tablets are used every day by your prospective delegates so why not use them during YOUR conference.