I am writing this to reflect upon my experiences of the most public seminars and events organized in Kathmandu, which I, sitting in the audience as a participant, often find quite torturous, not because the programmes themselves are lousy but the manner in which they are organized are. I have always felt that with little effort and with no extra cost things can be improved a lot to enhance the comfort of those sitting in the audience. So my narrative is about the discomfort that I have always endured while sitting in the audience. Let me share some of them with you.
First the banner. The banner which is hung to indicate the title of the programme and other key information about the programme is the first thing that welcomes you in the hall. But they are hardly readable from a distance because of their size. They are too small compared to the size of the room. And they are usually done with very bright and dazzling colors that do not match with the color of the wall around. Any sensible designer would go and see the color of the wall and the size of the room size before designing the banner to make it go with the wall and the room.
- Banner’s letters. The letters in the banners, especially the subtitles and other details, are too small to read even from the first row. It feels even worse if they are in italics. What is the purpose of having all the details on the banner if they are not readable? It would be unfair to imagine that people would figure them out anyway. The organizer should realize that there is always someone in the audience who has come for the first time and has little knowledge about the issues being discussed. The banner provides a lead to such audience and hence should be readable.
- The multimedia. The common problem with the multimedia is that it does not work at once. When one turns the lap top to show the first slide of the presentation, the screen says: no signals. It is a panicking moment for the speaker. Not knowing what to do, begins to push all available bottoms in the machine; and, all of a sudden the projector begins to work. The probability of fixing the problem is 50:50 anyway, but that short moment is embarrassing.
- The bouquet of flowers set in front of the speakers are to decorate the dash, but their heights are just high enough to obstruct the face of the speakers.
- While showing a documentary, the sound does not come, and when it comes it is hardly audible at the back. Just pretend that everything is fine, because it is customary to accept these tortures.
- Microphones are usually placed all over the place for the audience to interact with the speaker, but when one picks them to say something, it either does not work because the battery is dead, or you get a nasty feedback (that annoying screeching sound you get) to your embarrassment. If you are brave enough you just throw the microphone and begin to ask what you intend to ask in the loudest possible way. Then you face another embarrassing moment: someone rushes to you with another microphone when you are halfway through your question: take the microphone and repeat the question all over again.
It is not a question of how much extra would it cost to fix these problems, all it requires is that people should start to learn to honor the audience.