Turn wifi off before giving a talk from your laptop!

Today’s post doesn’t deal with any weighty issues. Instead, it has a simple seminar tip I wish more people knew: if you are giving a presentation from your own laptop, turn wifi off before you start your talk.

I’m sure there are exceptions where someone would need to be connected to the internet during a talk, but in my experience, the vast majority of seminar speakers do not need to be connected to the internet.

What is the downside to being connected? If you forget to fully quit Skype or turn off your desktop notifications, all those pop ups will be distracting (and potentially embarrassing).

In seminars I’ve been in, the Skype pop ups are the most common distraction. They are a minor distraction a distraction nonetheless. And if they turn from the “soandso is online” ones to instant messages from contacts, they can quickly become bigger distractions. The desktop notifications of new emails, tweets, etc. are very distracting (and have even greater potential for embarrassment!) And, yes, this happens even when the speaker is from somewhere else (but has connected to the university wireless at some point during their visit).

So, turn off wifi before you give a talk, so no one in your audience will look like this during your talk:


(image source)

7 thoughts on “Turn wifi off before giving a talk from your laptop!

  1. I was in a seminar once where the speaker’s mother tried to call on Skype despite being hung up on over and over. It actually was pretty funny and luckily was not a job talk or high pressure seminar, but I have always turned off my wifi since seeing that.

  2. I don’t usually turn off WiFi, but I *do* quit all the programs that might interfere with a presentation, either by producing pop-up messages or just by using up memory or stealing cycles and potentially causing unwanted pauses in the presentation (because a web page decides it needs to reload a video or something silly like that). So: email, web browser, messaging apps, calendar program — all off for the presentation.

    • Me too – turn off skype and calendar/Outlook before giving any lecture (teaching or seminar) seems to have covered it for me.Everything else on my computer that might notify like email has been ordered to only flash an icon in the little notification box on the lower right hand side in Windows (unnoticeable during a presentation unlike the Mac where things start bouncing up and down)

      • Are automatic updates potentially still a problem? I’ve seen that happen during talks (where the computer wants to restart to apply an update). Of course, that happens when using podium computers, too….

      • Yes they could be. I have my updates set to download but not run until I tell them to so they’re another icon in the little status box. I guess I hate computers telling me what to do!

  3. Yep another reason to use a Mac: The default is that notifications are turned off when a Powerpoint is running a slide show. On the downside, I’ve been embarrassed during teaching by incoming iMessages during the short time of switching over to another program. 🙂

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