numero rivista e pagine: HSR Proceedings in Intensive Care and Cardiovascular Anesthesia 2012; 4(4): 274-275
PDF version

Wish you were here!

Authors: M. John*1,2

Head of Medical Humanities International MD Program, Professor of Biomedical Communication Skills,
Faculty of Medicine, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy

Corresponding author: * Corresponding author:
Prof. Michael John
UniversitÓ Vita-Salute San Raffaele
Via Olgettina, 48 - 20132 Milan, Italy
E-mail: michael.john@hsr.it

Nowadays, each and every congress speaker should have at least the basic knowledge required to deal with those technical issues that might occur before and, more importantly, during the oral presentation. Whether it is a Mac or a Windows machine, we all have to know which buttons to press, which switches to flick, and which adapter cables to use in order to guarantee a seamless flow of data during our Keynote or PowerPoint presentations. Radio-frequency remote controls with integrated laser pointers, cable or cordless microphones, and iPhone or iPod remote slide changers can all help make our job easier, making us all seem like extremely professional public speakers.
Hang on just a moment! What on earth am I insinuating? On many occasions our slides have been prepared by one of our collaborators, and we might not have even taken the time to look through them before reaching the congress venue that, more often than not, might mean that we have been catapulted to the other side of the planet. The amazing video we wanted to show is nowhere to be found, and those excellent images just show up in the slides as blanks. I am not familiar with this software. I am not familiar with this hardware. Help! I need somebody. Help!
Over the hill rides the cavalry, in the form of the technical assistance team. These amazing professionals are always present at congresses, and are, of course, incredibly helpful when it comes to setting up and managing our presentations. Of course, on many occasions we are obliged to send our presentations to the congress organizers beforehand, as they need to upload everything onto their server to simplify events and make sure that everything is, indeed, uniform and without hitches and glitches before the congress starts. On other occasions, we arrive at the venue with our personal laptops, or maybe iPads, and need to connect to the projector in the congress hall. This too is sometimes not as easy as it might sound. This is where the technical team moves in and shows us which buttons to press on our PC, or which cable adapter we need for our Mac in order to be ready for the show.
Let me just give you an example. I have made one or two presentations in my time, but several months ago, while attending an international anesthesiology workshop in Barcelona (Spain), I ran into one of the finest teams of technical professionals I have ever had the honor to meet.
We met up for a pre-workshop briefing, together with the organizers of the meeting, in the hotel where the congress was to be held the next day for a run through of my Keynote slides. I had no problems with graphics or animation, and I was not using anything complex such as videos or moving images, so everything worked very smoothly. On my request, the team then took me to visit the room where I would be working. This was all extremely useful, as it is paramount for any speaker to be familiar with the environment where the presentation will take place.
After all, you need to know where you will stand, how the seating is organized, whether or not there is a board where you can write should needs be, and if you will be using a microphone or not.
Even in the smallest of rooms, a clip-on microphone can be very useful. I honestly did not think I needed one, as I have a well-trained and rather powerful voice. However, the technical crew explained to me the error of my ways.
A microphone can give you that little boost that is needed, just to make sure that everyone in the audience can hear what you are saying at all times.
Needless to say, next day everything went extremely well. The remote worked effortlessly, the laser pointer was spot on, and the aforementioned microphone was perfect. My presentation was a success, and I thanked the members of the audience for their attention, and the members of the technical crew for their invaluable assistance. The next day, just before leaving the hotel/congress center, I popped in to the main congress hall where the big post-workshop event was about to start. What I saw seemed like something from a science fiction movie. Screens, images, loudspeakers, huge mixer desks etc. In other words, the technical crew was once again at work to help make the event a resounding success. It was magnificent!
These professionals are our roadies. Talk to them. They are there to help us, and make sure that everything goes smoothly. Do not take them, or their talents, for granted.


'This is the sixteenth of a series of articles on this topic. Send any questions to michael.john@hsr.it who will answer them as part of this column'