Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Consider nixing the projector for quick demos

[This was originally posted at]

Say you want to do continuous development, with quick demos to management (or business sponsors) every week. One thing I've found useful is to nix the projector. I've been in places where in meetings, you can't show something on a computer unless it's on a projector. And of course for large meetings and official presentations I can see the benefit. However, if you want just a small and quick sanity-check meeting, there are several benefits to nix the projector:

  • Faster setup - I've seen endless problems trying to hook developer machines up to a seemingly innocent projector (can't turn on the projector, need to install special sofware, your laptop won't register, the screen doesn't show, different resolution sizes, adjust the font size, bad glare from the windows, etc...). If you only want a 10-minute "spot-check" demo, you don't want to waste even 5 minutes setting up a projector.
  • Smaller crowd - Something about human nature seems to be drawn to a presentation on the big screen (Maybe people think the bigger the screen, the more important, and they don't want to miss out on important things). However, by having just a laptop screen, it forces you to have a smaller crowd - maybe 5 or 6 people at the most.
  • Easier for multiple machines - Switching a projector between multiple laptops can also be risky (see "faster setup"). If for some reason you have multiple laptops (say you haven't integrated all the pieces for the demo onto a single machine yet, or you're showing very different scenarios that don't "fit" on one laptop), not having to worry about switching the projector can just make it more convenient.
  • Easier room requirements - A lot of offices only have a few "special" rooms that contain projectors - and these rooms are usually already booked. Not needing a projector means you aren't limited to these special rooms, and therefore have far more room options available.

I realize it's trivial in the scheme of things, but not needing to worry about the projector can eliminate some of the red tape and setup that distracts you from the things that aren't trivial.

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