On Wednesday, I wrote about the "accidents" that led to one of the livelier panels I've been to at a general conference. Today, I'm writing about an accident that led to a surprisingly good presentation.
A panelist could not get his carefully prepared PowerPoint presentation to work. He had no other notes. There were a lot of people in the audience. At first, he was clearly frazzled by the idea of not having slides or notes. But he just started talking to the audience about his research. It was one of the more engaging talks that I've seen at a conference.
Even though he had prepared graphs for the audience, the presentation went really well without graphs. I love and expect graphs, but they were not necessary.
I think the lesson for presenters is this. Talk to your audience. If you want to design slides that supplement what you're saying, that's fine. But don't let talking to the audience become reading slides.