On a stage in the not too distant future, a presenter steps up to speak. The walls behind and around her audience come to life with three dimensional visuals introducing her and the company she represents. As she begins speaking, she swipes her hand above a tablet device with a long gesture that ends with her palm facing the back wall. A graph seems to fly from the device to the wall, enlarging as it moves. She asks the audience a question, and the attendees respond via their handheld devices. The graph changes instantly. Remote audiences watching on a huge range of different media responded to the same prompt.

While that may sound like a particularly stylised movie scene, all of the technology that makes it possible already exists and is being used in some form in presentations every day. Presentation technology is advancing constantly, with the goal of making human communication more engaging, more effective and capable of communicating complex ideas succinctly. This blog examines emerging trends in presentation applications, equipment and techniques to help you prepare for the coming dramatic shift in audience expectations.

  • 1. The Virtual Presence

Large-scale presentations to media and big audiences looking for a ‘wow factor’ will soon be regularly utilising virtual presence in the form of holographic projection. Already used to resurrect departed musicians on big festival stages, holograms are actually just a clever use of 3D projection mapping, using multiple projectors, software and a physical object to carry the image.

Interactive three dimensional graphics are also set to become commonplace. While it is currently relatively straightforward to have 3D graphics created and projected on cue, the technology will change presentations when the presenter themselves is able to select, manipulate and map images in real-time, by whim and in reaction to the audience. This will involve gesture control of a master device such as a tablet and advanced, automated integration with mapping software and multiple projectors. There are already examples of this technology in the market. The key to utilising it successfully will lie in having the right content created for your message, and knowing when to use it.

  • 2. The Audience Speaks 

Having now been exposed to the possibilities of interaction via Twitter and live chat applications, audiences now expect more than a simple one-way flow of information from the presenter. Far from a distraction, letting your audience ask questions or vote en masse on a seminar’s direction from their phones keeps the attendees engaged and makes them more likely to absorb your message.

There are already countless applications across multiple platforms available to integrate the audience into the content. All offer a variation on a theme – the audience presses a button, writes a message or engages with pre-made content and their results of this are then collated to a main screen. What the presenter needs to be clear about is when and how to use the technology. Presenters that allow themselves to be guided and structured by audience curiosity must know their material inside-out. This rules out the possibility of a presenter using AV as a crutch and simply reading out or referring to slides to get through their material. The presenter must be confident in responding to audience questions and capable of bringing the material back to the important points after digressions. Preparation is key.

  • 3. It’s how we connect 

Even at the smallest scale that could be termed a ‘presentation’, in which just two or three people work together, technology already exists to greatly enhance communication. If the collaboration is occurring in one physical location, wireless products enable all devices present to connect to the room’s screen and individually share content to it. The same technology, scaled up, also allows remote participants to connect to the system, with all of the same sharing capabilities as if they were there.

Increasingly, these systems allow for amazing flexibility. Not only can different types of devices be connect together (phones, laptops, screens) but also different operating systems – iOS, PC, Android, Linux. Cross-compatibility on this scale was a physical impossibility just a few short years ago. Applications now exist that enable users on different platforms to actually work together of the same document, regardless of operating system. Across an network connection and through a shared app, a Mac user can edit an Excel spreadsheet and a PC user can collaborate in editing a Final Cut video, each with their own mouse and total independence.

We experience this when we drive – the longer we’re exposed to speed, the more comfortable we become with the risk of going faster, which is why people tend to get booked for speeding towards the end of their trip.

  • But what’s really important? 

No matter what technologies come along, no matter how real the virtual becomes, the central part of every presentation will always be humans communicating with one another. On the big stage, it’s always going to be about someone with great information and insight sharing with an audience. In the meeting rooms and offices, it’s about someone with a great idea spreading the word. Technology just helps us tailor our message, simplify the complex and make it memorable. Staging Connections understands the centrality of our physical presence when communicating, and can assist anyone to get the most of out of current (and future) presentation technologies.


Leave a comment