Pros and Cons of Public Speaking With Technology

ipad

Public speaking can be supplemented or inhibited by the presence of a speaking tablet, whether windows, mac, or linux based. What are the pros? What are the cons?

I found an article, 3 Reasons for Not Using a Tablet for Speaking Notes,  which speaks to a handful of cons of speaking with technology. Those reasons are:

  1. Speakers tend to hunch over when using a tablet.
  2. Speakers tend to lose eye contact with the audience when using a tablet.
  3. Speakers can look inept with the technology.

These reasons are definitely possibilities, but they are not cause and effects. They are not guaranteed to happen with every public speaker or every speaking occasion. There are more factors to consider, both on the pros side and the cons side.

Beyond the pros and cons, the most important factors in weighing the pros and cons of speaking with technology are (1) the speakers themselves and (2) their audience.

The speakers and their audience are what’s most important, but first let’s explore some other pros and cons of speaking with technology. By no means is this going to be an attempt at an exhaustive list. Rather, this is simply meant to spark further interest in the topic.

PROS of Speaking with Technology:

  1. Easily Accessible Content – There is an ease with storing files and accessing files through technology. It can be clearly organized. One could simple speak from an open document, scrolling as they move along.
  2. Digital Apps – The ability to use apps can be supplemental in speaking. For example, internet access could allow directly pulling from any online material. For a preacher or pastor, a Bible app provides a few benefits: finding a passage is just a few clicks away, you can allow people to either turn to (if they have a book) or load (if they have digital access) a passage in the same few seconds of time.
  3. Slim Designs – Most tablets or iPads are slim in their design, making for easy handling.

CONS of Speaking with Technology:

  1. Technology Fails – The battery could die if the user does not keep it charged. An app could freeze unexpectedly. Technology is not 100% dependable.
  2. Distracting – To some in the audience, technology in the hands of the speaker can be distracting. This is the gist of what the previously named article describes: using technology can change the delivery of the speaker, for the bad. This is not always the case, but generally speaking, devices can be distracting for others. If the speaker’s use of the device does not appear natural or if some in the audience have a general disconnect with others using technology, then technology can be distracting.
  3. Lacks an Authority – Specifically, publicly speaking preachers or pastors can run into another issue: tablets or iPads do not replace the Bible as an authority. Even though the Bible may be read or drawn from, there is less of a perceived authority in it coming from a digital device. The Bible, the physical book, has a history of being perceived as holy and authoritative. There’s no app to boost technology’s holiness or level of authority level, unfortunately.

The Speaker and the Audience:

Beyond the pros and cons, what will always matter most is (1) the speakers themselves and (2) their audience.

How the speaker uses what they have to deliver what they say is key to how well they do. I have seen speakers flipping through physical pages trying to find something they wanted to refer to. I have also seen speakers with phones, tablets, or iPads delay themselves in similar searches for content or information. It takes away from their delivery. The error there is not really the tool but the speaker. A speaker with confidence and good preparation can make those transitions feel seamless for the audience.

The speaker’s posture, eye contact, and confidence all weigh into their delivery. Whether they speak from paper or a digital device, both are simply a tool in the delivery. The real quality in any speech is always in the speakers themselves.

The audience is another factor. They are the active participants in hearing a speech. Their receptivity determines the influence of the speech. This is why knowing the audience is vital for the speaker. The speaker can speak from relationships, from what they have seen and can envision in the people they are speaking to. The speaker will not always know their audience, but they can still relate to them. There are differences in speaking to children, youth, adults, or a mixture. There are differences in speaking in front of 10, 50, 100, 1,000 or more people. There is no one means the speaker and the audience must relate, but the influence a speaker has on their audience will correlate to how well the they connect with them as people.

Public speaking with technology: there are pros, there are cons, and there is the speaker and their audience. Technology can aid or it can inhibit, but it more importantly comes down to the speaker and their utilization of whatever tools they bring to the speech. Technology is a tool, but it is a tool of the speaker.


iPad Image Source: http://cdn2.macworld.co.uk/cmsdata/reviews/3263853/iPad_2_800a_thumb800.jpg

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