This is Part 2 of the blog post on presenting accessible and inclusive webinars. In Part 1, I verified the content in my deck to ensure it’s accessible. Here are a few more considerations I made to ensure that the delivery of the presentation was inclusive as well.
PowerPoint provides you the option of checking the ‘Always Use subtitles’ option and selecting the spoken language as well as the subtitle language which will be displayed on screen during the presentation.
My initial views on subtitles were that this enabled those with hearing loss to engage with the presented content. But then, with respect to the aspect of temporary disabilities, there are multiple reasons to enable subtitles.
Virtual viewership does not necessarily have to be from comfort of the couch. I’ve caught up on video podcasts while on cab rides and waiting at the doctor’s office. Subtitles allows viewers to watch videos on silent especially in loud environments or public places where audio would be disruptive.
It’s also easier to understand content when subtitles are available. If you are talking at a global conference, chances are your audience would be from various backgrounds. You could also be talking at a meetup that is from a different geography than yours. If you are a non-native speaker, your audience has an additional option to read your content. Subtitles enable them to follow your speech better.
My first lesson in this space was during my presentation at The Global AI Bootcamp Latin America . I was one of the few non-native speakers at the conference. I’m thankful to the moderator Luis Beltran who reminded me to turn on the subtitles before my presentation.
PowerPoint Rehearse with Coach
Microsoft PowerPoint has this great feature of a presentation coach that allows you to rehearse your presentation using the ‘Rehearse with Coach’ functionality.
As I used this feature to rehearse for one of my talks, I realized that it not just advices on my pace or if I use filler words such as ‘uh’, ‘umm’, ‘like’, etc., it also detects any sensitive phrases or profanity in your speech.
We can choose to receive such suggestions both during the Live coaching session and as part of the Rehearsal Report at the end of the session.
Upon further reading, it was great to know that the Rehearsal Coach reviews biases around several dimensions and calls these out in the reports.
I have not had the opportunity to use PowerPoint Live, in GA now. But I’ve tried it out and it seems to hugely improve the inclusion, amongst other great features.
“With Live Presentations in PowerPoint, audience members can see a presentation on their devices and read live subtitles in their preferred language while you speak. They can use “pinch to zoom” to see the slides more clearly on mobile devices, give feedback, send live reactions to the presenter, and navigate back to review previous slides.“Source: Microsoft
The Global AI on tour event where I presented this webinar used StreamYard and the organizers had subtitles enabled- thanks to Stephen Simon and team. But PowerPoint Live is an option for speakers, in case the subtitles are not enabled at your event.
Describe the Slide
Guiding the audience through the presentation slides is helpful. I took the recommendation to Read out the Urls on screen. One of the things I wish to do better next time is to not allude much to the visual/ image on screen.
As I sought recommendations from the community on how I could present Inclusive webinars, one of the first suggestions I received was to “describe what you look like and the room you’re in”. A few months back, I’d seen the speakers at the Microsoft Ability Summit do self introductions this way and I remember thinking “How thoughtful!”.
But honestly, as I considered doing this, I lacked courage. I ran the thought of probably being the the only speaker at my event to do so and wondering if people would ‘get’ my intention. I’m glad I didn’t let this insecurity get to me. It wasn’t perfect but I’m glad I did it – “I am an Indian woman with dusky skin and long black hair. I’m wearing a crimson red top. I’m in a room painted white. Behind me, I have two paintings on the wall”.
This was perhaps the most challenging of all the steps in this 2 part blog post. But I’m sure as I read this blog post in 5 years from now- it’d hopefully be the norm. I hope to be smiling and thinking of this giant leap for myself, a small step towards inclusion.