photo credit: via photopin cc

By Anne Katz, PhD, RN, FAAN

Have you ever been at a conference and noticed audience inflatable floating water park members taking photos of the slides on the screen? Perhaps you have even done it…

Please, please, please stop!

Why is this so important? The information on the slides belongs to the presenters. They have not given you permission to photograph (i.e., copy) the information on the slide. They may be presenting findings from a study that has not yet undergone peer review. They may be presenting about a paper or a book they have written, and the information may be copyrighted to the publisher.

ONS publishes an abbreviated version of presenter slides and/or objectives online, which give attendees a “skeleton” to save or print out and bring to Congress sessions. You can make additional notes and comments for your personal use, but you can’t use them for any purpose other than your own information.

I am writing this from the perspective of a nurse author and frequent presenter. I put a lot of work into my presentations, and it is distracting to see smartphones and tablets above the heads of the audience. I know that the people are more focused on taking a good photo rather than listening to me. I am also concerned that people are going to use my slides for presentations of their own. What I include in my presentations is my intellectual property—and I have a right to decide what information I am prepared to share and what I am not.

So when you’re sitting in a session, think before you shoot. Listen instead of focusing your camera screen. And remember that if you want the slides, you can ask the presenter for a copy and let him/her decide what they are willing to share.

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There are 4 comments

  1. Joni Watson says: March 4, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    I think it depends on the speaker. More and more presenters are encouraging such in order to share via social media to encourage increased discussion and exposure on social media back channels.

    I’ll admit I have actually done this and see this frequently from conferences on key slides (which I enjoy as it helps me feel engaged in the content of a conference when I’m not there). The number of retweets, shares, reposts, etc. can be pretty staggering.

    • Caitlin Ionadi says: March 5, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Great point, Joni! For speakers that are comfortable with photo taking and sharing, we recommend making an announcement at the beginning of the presentation to let attendees know.

  2. Kavitha Nair says: March 18, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    I do agree with both perspectives and I do admit I have done this as well in conferences where I need the information and is hard to retain it all.With increasing use of smart ideas and technology, totally agree with Caitlin’s suggestion ,a disclaimer should be announced by presenter regarding photography of slides.

  3. Colleen O’Leary says: April 26, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Agree. Speakers should take responsibility for saying what they want. I’m accustomed to doing that anymore. Some things I don’t mind and others I do.

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