This is a guest blog post by Bob McMillan. After running for the United States Senate in 1988 and winning editorial “praise” from “The New York Times”, Bob McMillan was named by President George Bush to the Board of the Panama Canal Commission and confirmed by the United States Senate for the post on November 19, 1989. On October 27, 1993, he was elected Chairman of the Commission’s Board of Directors — in this role, he needs to present very often, and this guest post is an opinion from his experience with these presentations.
Each year, I give around 25 lectures to various organizations with my PowerPoint presentations. And I am sure you go to meetings when the speakers use PowerPoints in their presentations or even in classrooms. Hooking up the PowerPoint projector with the laptop, inserting the thumb drive with the presentation on it and gearing up the pointer for the slides can be a challenge.
I have been at meetings where presenters are trying to set up even after they are introduced. It can be very frustrating. Is the set up that complicated?
Several weeks ago, I set up my equipment and was ready to present a lecture about the Panama Canal. Arriving for the presentation, one half hour before the scheduled appearance, I arranged everything and was all set for my lecture – I thought.
After being introduced, I started to click to the first slide, and nothing happened. Always prepared for equipment failure, I had a printed copy of all the slides so I could continue my presentation while I worked to get the equipment up and running. Nothing helped.
Then, a woman in the audience, next to my laptop, said, “I think a plug is loose?” She was right. Someone had brushed up against the computer and loosened the plug from the projector to the laptop. That was very easy to fix, and I could go on with the presentation.
As I have reviewed my personal experiences with the frustration of PowerPoint presentations and experienced the challenges for lecturers when I have been in the audience, I do not understand why no one has invented a simple “plug and play” piece of equipment. To me it is a little like pressing “start” on the lower left side of a computer to actually shut down the computer. It does not make common sense.
With all the expertise in the Internet world, why isn’t there a piece of equipment, which can operate in a simple manner? And because of the complex set up procedures for PowerPoint presentations, shutting down after a presentation becomes another challenge.
Usually, after a talk, several people will gather with me as I am putting my equipment back in the carrying case. Power plugs, extension cords, and the cord between the laptop and the projector have to be folded and put away. One day I forgot one of the cords and had to go back to the facility to recover the power plug.
Sometimes, as I am frustrated by it all together, I use a fun statement. PowerPoint equipment is like a man or woman – depending on your point of view – you really cannot live with them or without them! Seriously, I go back to my wish that someone, out there, should invent a simple “plug and play” PowerPoint projector. We are so involved in an amazing age of technology that it is incredible that this cannot be resolved.