Please join me in thanking the last speaker. I am totally serious here, please DO join me and thank the speakers who perform in virtual arenas. The cultural norm of an audience to applaud and congratulate a speaker at a live event appears to have been lost in cyber-space and now presenters finish to…silence. This is terrible for lots of reasons and must change for the benefit of both the speaker and the audience. Please join me and return to thanking speakers.
A live presentation is a significant undertaking for a presenter no matter whether that is a keynote speech to thousands, a major scientific meeting or even a local teaching session. There is a significant amount of preparation, time and emotional challenge in bringing the piece to its consumation. Most of that is unseen and unknown but the successful conclusion of the piece itself is recognised by the audience and rewarded.
The reward for a presentation is attention, emotional connection and gratitude. The is communally expressed at the end of the piece usually by applause; the strength, rate, and duration of this applause often perceived as a marker of quality. Remember the rapturous applause at the end of a rock concert (do we even remember concerts??) and compare to the polite and limited ripple of applause for a less than stellar support group. Now consider the last online presentation you watched.
I appreciate that all microphones except the speaker must be muted during a presentation; we have all lived through the gratuitous feedback loops, noisy children and embarrassing soto voce comments. It is completely unacceptable that presenters finish their online delivery to complete silence from the audience. The challenge of delivering to an unresponsive green dot is enough in itself but to have nothing in return even at the end of a presentation must change. My request is that you would please join me in thanking the last speaker. All we need to do is turn our audio back on and do what we did in real life.