Windows PCs should not be used for Presenting
One of the best events I get to go to every couple of years is OZTeK, a conference that focuses on the science, technology and mentality of diving on the cutting edge. It’s even cooler (for me) that for the third time this year, I was one of the MCs of OZTeK.
With a variety of the world’s best speakers in diving, including the likes of Jill Heinerth, Simon Mitchell, Michael Menduno and many others, I consider OZTeK to be a TEDx of tec diving. The presenters are fantastic, and have wonderful stories to tell. As with all presentations everywhere, the quality and style of the supporting media was varied.
Consisting mostly of PowerPoint slides and some supporting video, some of the media actively supported and added to the stories, and some were neutral. Unfortunately, a small number even detracted from the presentations. What was cool was that a few presenters chose to ditch the slides altogether, and instead just spoke. They had good stories, and were clearly passionate about those stories.
I give a lot of presentations, and these days am doing more and more of them from my iPad. My MacBook Air continues, however, to be my main presentation device. What I like about presenting from the Mac is that once you’re in presentation mode in Keynote, the Mac gets out of your way. I would be loathe to use a Windows machine for presenting these days, and my experience at OZTeK only reaffirmed that. You see, Windows machines (provided by the contracted AV company I believe) were used in the conference rooms for presenting.
The biggest problem with Windows is that it is an interuptive device. Windows machines, the Windows OS and Windows applications are often attention seeking little suckers, popping up left, right and centre, craving for you to do something. Or nothing. But at least talk to it, or it will do something anyway.
On several occasions, the little popup bubble shown on the right popped its head up. This one isn’t too bad, because at least it doens’t stop the presentation running. To be fair, notifications in OSX (using Growl or Notifications Center) do much the same. In all cases, these can (and should) be turned off. Especially if you use notification centre for other things, like emails, iMessages, etc…
With Windows, however, the default setting seems to be for the system to automatically download the update (and aren’t there a lot of Windows updates) and for many of these updates to require a restart. Which it also does automatically, although at least the system is nice enough to give you a warning.
Problem is that it will kick you out of what you are doing - even if you are presenting. In presentation mode. You, the presenter, are talking away and start to notice some of your audience giggling. You turn and see the screen. You rush over to hit the “Restart Later” button, because it seems that mostly you have 60 seconds to do so.
Presentation machines - Windows, OSX or even iPads - need to be setup so that once in presentation mode all notifications are automatically blocked from popping up and interupting. And they should never be allowed to kick you out of what you are doing.
With Mac OSX and iOS devices, turning off notifications is quite easy. With Windows, the interuptiveness is deeply embedded in the architecture. It is possible to turn things off, but (in my experience) the process is like the little boy plugging the holes of the dam with his fingers. After plugging 10 holes, things get interesting. And there’s always another hole.
So, as a presenter, I would suggest that you present from a device that allows you to turn off all interuptions. Of course, some notifications might be exceptions - you would want to know if you’ve got a critical battery issue, and you and your audience might want to know if the Centers for Disease Control announce a zombie outbreak.
In my opinion, Windows PC’s are not the right device to present from.