Monday, July 7, 2008

testing the kindle on the lectern

I took the Amazon Kindle out for a test-drive in a real speaking engagement last month, when I moderated the annual media roundtable--a panel of three reporters--for Washington Women in Public Relations. While the moderation requires extemporaneous speaking, the panel introductions did require a text--and gave me a good test opportunity. Here's what I learned about what you should expect when using this new device in a live setting, from preparatory steps to actual use:

    • Readability was excellent. I experimented before the session with the six type sizes, and found none of them quite large enough (and my eyesight's good). So I loaded all the intros into one Word document, and bumped the type size up to 16 point in Word before emailing it to my Kindle-specific email address. (That lets Kindle reformat Word documents to fit the reader.) With text sent in 16 point type and bumped up to size six in the Kindle, it was extremely easy to read and see.
    • But that depends on the lighting. Kindles aren't backlit devices, unlike your computer screen, and that's actually better for your eyes, over time. But when you're reading on a Kindle, you need an external source of light. In this case, our venue had a nice spotlight trained over the reading surface of the lectern, and it was midday. One of our panelists reminded me that using the Kindle at night, in a darkened lecture hall and without a reading light trained on it, wouldn't work. (So that adds one more question for you to ask before you tote the Kindle along with you.)
    • The page "turners" may trip you up. Kindle features long, rectangular tabs on either side, so you can depress them with a thumb or one finger to go to the previous or next page. (Two tabs are available on either side for "next," and one tab on the left is used for "previous.") And yes, like many other reviewers, I found myself inadvertently paging forward, needed to page back to stay on top of my introductions.
I'll keep practicing privately and in live settings with Kindle, because I'm excited by the possibilities for speakers. Let me know your experiences, questions and ideas!

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