Evolving the Presentation

The other day I saw Nick Parrish of Contagious Magazine speak here in Toronto. While I thoroughly enjoyed his talk, one thing struck me: Here we are celebrating whole new ways of communicating, marketing and advertising, yet the way we talk about them hasn't changed. When is the last time you went to a presentation that was something more than a guy (or gal...or even a Guy Gal) behind a podium (or holding a microphone) and standing next to or beside a screen displaying their slides? Sometimes there is video. Sometimes, cool demos.

The last big change to the way we presented was with Twitter. Rather than having to wait until a more formal question and answer period, or leaning to the person next to you to whisper your opinion, you could take to the internet and communicate with the rest of the people in the room about what was being said on stage. For many conferences, this Twitter backchannel was as important was what was going on at the front of the room.

However, it still feels like an add-on, and has changed the audience's way of experiencing a presentation rather than the way the information is being presented.

Prezi shows promise as an alternative to Powerpoint and Keynote, but it is still just another way of putting information up on slides (it's the unique transitions between slides that makes it stand out). Plus, I've heard Prezi gives people motion sickness.

Live streaming and the TED-like practice of putting everything online has given more people access to presentations, but it certainly hasn't changed the presentation format.

So what's the next big step for presenting? We know our content is interesting, but how can we utilize some of the new media technologies we talk about to deliver it in a more interesting way? How can we engage the audience while still sticking to script and not getting distracted? If the content is the problem, how can we make it better?

I definitely don't have the answers, but I'm going to look for them.