Handouts and PowerPoint

In these two areas we hope to improve on standard conference procedure. The practices of distributing a multi-page handout, and of accompanying a lecture with lavish images or on-screen text, are – culturally-speaking, fairly new. To encourage an audience to follow simultaneously both oral and on-screen text, full statements and bullet-points, complex argument and simultaneous encouragement to dip into an abundant handout, is a cognitive disaster. Organisers are invited to urge speakers to limit themselves to short handouts (printed in advance, please). Fuller written material can be signalled as available electronically from the author afterwards, if required. (Even non-ecologists may appreciate the saving of paper.)


Organisers should also advise speakers with PowerPoint presentations to check them on the actual equipment in advance, wherever possible. Repeated failures with the technology in real time subvert the reception of a paper. Chairs should be known to carry a nuclear option: the power, after significant time has been wasted, to require speakers to proceed without PowerPoint.