Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Silence your Cameras!

We should have expected this, it was just bound to happen.  But when it came, it still took many aback.

I am talking about the use of smartphone cameras to capture speaker slides during presentations.  I recently attended the AMEE 2012 meeting and noticed a large segment of the audience taking endless photos during presentations.  They took multiple photos of one slide either because the shot was not focused or the speaker was building the sliding via animation and they missed some bullet points.

Personally I have no problem with this practice.  I have been doing this myself in a limited manner using my Motorola Xoom tablet and Evernote.  The problem is that people are forgetting to mute their cameras and can be irritating and distracting to the people around them.  When many people start taking multiple photos, the issue can be quite serious.

At one session one of the audience members got so upset that she got up and asked everyone to silence their cameras.  I expect that presenters will soon be adding something on their first slide to ask the audience to silence their cameras.


  1. You can reduce or eliminate this behaviour by, at the start of your talk, announce the URL where people can download the slides. You can also put "available for download at http://whatever" at the bottom of each slide, to remind people.

    At least some cameras and camera phones do not, without modification, allow people to silence the shutter noise. A few years back, this feature lock was seen as a deterrent to people taking photos without the subject knowing they were being photographed. Attitudes have changed somewhat but you will probably find there are still people who have such devices or people who don't know how to switch their phone into silent mode.

    1. @Mark Heseltine - excellent points - especially the one about putting the slides online and displaying the URL at the start. Some folks would like to have a QR code instead of an URL (only at the start of the presentation). That way they don't have to type in the entire URL. The problem is this would require them to use their smartphones again. Not a big deal if it is only at the start of the presentation.
      Using an URL shortener might be the best option - something like

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