How to do technology for library conference speakers

A lesson learned from my spring of jaunting about to talk at conferences, which I truly hope someone reads and listens to. If you are involved in speaker outreach for a conference, I beg of you: Inform the speakers of how the setup will work.

In the past 12 months, I’ve encountered all of the following:

  • A tech setup on which I had to provide my slides for the talk in PowerPoint for Windows and give them to the event staff to load onto an external computer which then fed them to the podium, where there was a remote for me to use for clicking around.
  • A classroom with a SmartBoard and podium, but no instructions on how to log in to the system or gain access to the right software.
  • A podium at which I could plug in my MacBook, complete with adaptor.
  • A podium at which I could plug in my MacBook, if I remembered to bring my adaptor.
  • A presentation at which I wasn’t told until a week in advance that there would be no projection capacity for me to use, prompting me to need to re-do my entire talk without visuals.
  • Any or all of the above with or without a dedicated tech support person or contact method.

Each one of these was standard for the conference in question, and in nearly every case, it was assumed I would know this in advance – that I would know what “standard” was. So I implore you: If you are involved in bringing in speakers, tell them what to expect. Don’t stop at asking “what are your technology needs?” but instead find out what they need and then tell them what you’re giving them. That way, presenters will know what to do: Do I bring a flash drive with my slides in .key and .ppt? Do I email my slides to someone in advance? Do I work with the tech folks on site? Am I on my own, with assistance-as-available from volunteers?

Anything you know, share it in advance. Presenters will love you for it.

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