Three Presentation Wow Factors: Why Your Audience Wants Photographic Evidence

Cleo Connect 2018

Welcome to the Think Tank with Frank Kenney

With decades of analyst and integration industry experience, Frank Kenney is a fountain of knowledge on all things tech. Now, he aims to share that awareness with you. Come back every other Thursday for your biweekly dose of thought leadership in this blog from one of technology’s most insightful thinkers and gain perspective on a variety of topics ranging from what’s happening in integration today to what’s on the horizon, poised to disrupt the integration space going forward.

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Just a short post this week. Coming off of a remarkable customer conference in Nashville, Tennessee, I had a quick thought I’d like to share with you about industry events and presentations in general.

I love being on stage. Plain and simple.

I especially like being on stage when everyone takes their cellphone out and starts to take pictures. Okay, let me qualify that just a little bit. I love being on stage when everyone takes the cell phone out and starts taking pictures when I am doing a flawless rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

However, when I’m on stage talking about technology, and inevitably when some in the audience reach for their cell phones and start taking pictures, I always worry that they’re missing out on what I’m saying. They are dropping out of the real-time flow in favor of zooming in, adjusting for glare, checking the focus, and hitting the capture button, trying to ensure some referenceable visual artifact of my presentation so they can attempt to fully absorb the message at a later date.

I understand. Trust me when I say, I’ve been there. As an audience member at more multi-day events than I care to detail, at some point, usually toward the last day, sitting in a session can feel a bit like drinking from the fire hose. So, a camera capture of the presentation visuals won’t wash away from the memory banks as quickly as the specific technology appellations, observations, and projections common to the stage during an industry event.

But, there’s another case as well. One where you must share a meaningful epiphany. A profound “Aha!” with someone who couldn’t be there.

Cleo Connect 2018


These folks, the ones who decide to take share-worthy pictures of slides mid-presentation generally fall into three categories.

Three Presentation Wow Factors

Why you in the audience decide what’s picture-worthy:

  • Wow! My boss was saying this exact thing, let me be the good guy and send over a picture of the slide to validate her thoughts!
  • Wow! I was explaining (trying to explain) this very topic to my co-worker. Let me send a picture of this one slide to confirm my point of view but have someone else do the hard work articulating it.
  • Wow! This is important (see: innovative, disruptive, game-changing, revolutionary, paradigm-shifting). As an organization, we have never even thought about this topic or discussed it. Let me send a picture of this specific slide to my team to let them know.

So here are some tips for the folks that are in the audience as well as the folks that present.

For the event organizers

Let the audience know if the slides will be available and how to retrieve them. Removing that uncertainty assures the audience that they can enjoy the presentation in the moment, increasing the likelihood of being able to take away the main points of the presentation and better internalize the message instead of engaging in a frantic snap and share to get pictures back to team members who aren’t in attendance.

For the audience

Have your camera ready. But also, ask if there are printouts of the slides available so that you can take applicable notes in context of the presentation. Or, if you’re like me and you use an iPad and an Apple Pencil, find out if you can get the slides in advance so that you can take notes directly in your own copy of the presentation. It’s that expeditious train of thought that allows you to better reproduce the content to your team members that may not be in attendance.

For the presenters

First presentation or last day of the event, understand that your job is to make the insanely complex easily consumable and relatable. Very often you are tasked with bringing to light concepts and trends that were only captured in words from a white paper or research note.

Bringing these to life is what you do. And so, do it in a way that allows the audience to most easily internalize and reproduce it. Also, understand that in many cases people will take pictures of the screens to refresh their memories, and quite often rapidly share content with team members that are not in attendance.

On that note, don’t be afraid to slow down, or pause between transitions. If you know that slides are not being made available to the audience, provide room in your presentation to allow people to take pictures of the screen or leave the slides up for a few extra minutes.

For the folks that were in session for my presentations last week – thank you for attending!  My slides are available and shareable. Drop me a line to let me know if you need them.

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About Frank Kenney

A former Gartner analyst and current market evangelist and strategy director, Frank Kenney is widely credited as the creator of the term managed file transfer (MFT) and was the first to write about and discuss its modern architecture, platform, and use cases. Previously, Frank served more than 10 years as a research director at Gartner, where he defined the MFT, B2B gateway, SOA governance, and cloud service brokerage (CSB) markets.

Before joining Cleo, Frank held leadership roles in product marketing, aligning vision and strategy with integration products, services, and messaging. As an independent IT consultant, Frank helped technology providers create, validate, and implement a variety of business strategies.

Frank holds a degree in music technology from the Center for the Media Arts, holds degrees and certifications in digital multimedia and instructional technologies, and studied English and computer science at the University of Tampa.