High-Tech Heckling for PowerPoint
Remember Mystery Science Theater (aka MST 3000)? As I recall, 'twas a clever cable TV show, where we see the back of the heads of three characters in the front row of a theater. As a B-movie played on screen, the audience was treated to a running commentary of the three characters. The enjoyment was not in watching a cheesy B-movie, but in hearing the characters poke fun at the large screen action.
And a few years back, Joi Ito
wrote longingly of the "hecklebot" - a wifi method of letting audience members anonymously heckle -- er, provide valuable feedback -- to conference speakers as they perform on stage. So much for waiting for the evaluation after the conference! Hecklebot lets the speaker know what's on the minds of the audience right away.
Right now, you can anonymously heckle post- conference: even if you've never even attended the event. Check out this set of slides at Flickr
-- and as you click on prev
in the slide show set -- you'll see the running list of commentary (posted by individuals) on each slide shown at Microsoft's introduction of its new Windows Live platform in San Francisco on November 1, 2005.
Think of MST: each Microsoft slide gets its share of commentary and criticism at Flickr
. And much of it is on target -- as well as amusing. Never mind that a slide is taken out of context and offered up for commentary: this type of criticism can be quite enlightening.
(In the early 1990's, I remember Microsoft's new software demos as v. exciting stuff. I don't know what the heck happened in San Francisco this year...)
Face it: if sound bites are frequently taken out of context by the media, we also need to look at visual bytes...like our PowerPoint slides.
The kind of criticism at MST and FlickR (not to mention the hecklebot or other wifi commentary) is very subjective, and gets right to the nuances of performance....there's no doubt how the audience REALLY feels! As presenters, we can learn a lot from this type of heckling and use it to improve our images and as well as our delivery.
And it's certainly more polite than throwing tomatoes or yelling insults during the presentation.