Clever image a real distraction during Webinar

WIRED Magazine Artifact from the Future: Smart Diaper

© 2005 WIRED Magazine

Take a look at this image. It’s part of a series run in WIRED magazine called “Artifacts from the Future.” Every month they feature an imagined everyday object from the future that solves some sort of problem we’re having today. It’s the first thing I look at every time I get that magazine in the mail (#ImSoOldFashioned) because it’s clever, funny, and a great demonstration of what you can do in Photoshop.

What does this image have to do with PowerPoint? Well, last week I attended a Webinar called “Stop Presenting! Start Succeeding – How to Create Webinars That Engage.” It was really good and I leaned quite a bit. But this image appeared in the deck, and that’s when my attention started to waver. Pretty ironic, huh?

The presenter included it in reference to something completely unrelated to WIRED Magazine, futurists, humor, or Photoshop. He didn’t credit the photo or talk about it much at all, which got me thinking, “Where have I seen that before?” Then I clicked away from the Webinar, did a search for “future Huggies,” and came up with this image, along with a collection of all of the “Artifacts From the Future” for 2005. So I spent a little time poking around that page until I realized that I was missing the Webinar. Oops.

One of the big problems with Webinars is distraction. People Tweet, check their email, and surf online while attending. There’s always lots to do online, so presenters need to engage their listeners and give them a reason to focus. If you give people a mystery to figure out, such as “Where did this cool Photoshopped diaper come from?” then your audience is off and running.

Main takeaways?

  1. Don’t use uncredited images in your presentations.
  2. Images unrelated to your content are a distraction.
  3. Images that are funny, mysterious, clever, and otherwise fascinating are a huge distraction.
  4. If you really must use such images, spend a few seconds explaining what they are, where you got them, and why they’re relevant to the conversation so that your audience doesn’t go walkabout during your presentation.

2 Responses to Clever image a real distraction during Webinar

  1. Rob says:

    I teach Geography and include a lot of “great” pictures in my PowerPoints, pictures of European cities, great mountain ranges, etc. Sometimes, however, I feel like the pictures as so “fascinating” as you say that they distract from the presentation. Yet there have to be some pictures of the places we’re talking about… any advice how to handle it?

    • lmfdesign says:

      Rob, if your pictures illustrate what you’re talking about, then they are probably supporting your message. For example, talking about Paris you might have a picture of the Eiffel Tower, a baguette, or the Louvre. But if your photographs have intriguing details, such as lots of shop signs, a photo of a magazine stand with hundreds of titles, or unusual people then they will be distracting. I’d just use generic images unless you want to spark conversations about different cultures or exotic locales.

      A good way to ensure that your images remain neutral is to make sure they don’t include people or text of any kind.

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