Conference presentations are great because you have some control over the context. You can adjust the lights and quiet the room. You can walk around, carrying the gaze of your audience with you.
At this moment, how are you reading this post? Are you sitting in your office staring at a desktop screen filled with tabs and the occasional blinking light? Are you sitting on a bus or a train?
As much as I would like, I cannot eliminate all the other distractions that surround you while you read this post.
All I can do is focus.
In this post…
- I’ll talk about the full screen web of the past;
- and why you can no longer assume that your presentation will be viewed full screen;
- I talk a little about your mobile audience;
- and wrap up with what you can do about it.
Also, if you would be so kind. When you’re done, could you comment and let me know how you are reading this post? I’d love to know what I’m competing with right now.
The full screen web
When you think about the person experiencing your online presentation, what does it look like? Are they sitting at their computer sipping coffee and carefully reading your offering? Do you have their undivided attention?
Now don’t be too hard on yourself, because sometimes that is the reality. But often it’s not.
In the early days of the web, when graphics were limited and screens were small, websites were viewed full screen. If someone visited your site you could reasonably expect that they were looking at your site.
The web is no longer full screen
You can no longer expect that your reader is seeing your site in all its full screen glory. If they’re looking at your site on a desktop or a laptop it’s likely there are other tabs open, the screen is minimized, and there are blinking lights signaling emails, tweets, or a range of other distractions.
The context of your online presentation is often chaotic. It’s not the same as standing in front of a room you can quiet.
Sometimes the canvas is limited
The only time you can feel more comfortable about what your reader is seeing is in the mobile world. The screen is just so tiny. Of course, even smart phone web browsers have tabs and a system tray.
And that’s not even mentioning the physical context. Is your mobile reader on the bus? Are they sitting in a crowded restaurant? Are they walking down the street?
Focus, because you can’t control the context
You don’t have control over the context with which your presentation is seen. Accept it. And once you accept it, start to understand the chaos, and let it change the way you present.
You craft the presentation. The format, the visuals, the sentences. Strip away any distractions, like irrelevant widgets and unnecessary paragraphs. Craft your presentation in a way that puts all the focus on the ideas that are important. Maybe write deductively, but more importantly, just be direct.
Because unlike the context, focus is something you can control.