1. Lessons In Leadership
  2. Thoughts from the Zeitgeist

Remember Slide Modules?

It’s not about the window — it’s about the view.

I wonder how many people today in the business of producing meetings and shows remember the unparalleled beauty and unmitigated terror of running programmed 35-mm-film slide modules.

A friend who worked with me back in the day shared a recent article in MIT Technology Review that brought it all back to me. The modules could be created to fill giant AV screens with images of pristine resolution — the result of projecting film slides through stacks of carousel projectors to create composite panoramas of breathtaking splendor. It was only possible because of breakthrough technology that allowed thousands of cues to be programed into a show control computer and synced to an anthem-like soundtrack. The sound of all those carousel projectors clacking away was deafening up in the projection booth. And it often involved a heroic effort by the production team because it only took one projector to jam, or one bulb to burn out, and the presentation went haywire. But when it worked — and it usually did — goosebumps.

As with most trips down memory lane, this one came with instructive signposts. That slide module technology had a wow factor that is hard to imagine if you’ve never seen it. I sometimes wish there were a way to resurrect it just for younger colleagues to enjoy. And yet the convenience and ubiquity of PowerPoint/Keynote quickly made it obsolete. This validates what we all know — that what ultimately matters is the content. Those modules were designed with relevant and memorable messages delivered in an emotionally engaging, aesthetically satisfying way. That always works.

At our recent leadership conference, one of our AI wizards humored me by creating a deepfake video of me introducing myself. He did an amazing job in a short turnaround. (Thank you, Kedar.) And our audience of fellow Freeman people all had a good laugh. What followed was a presentation about how AI can help us up our game in designing solutions for our clients. We also talked about how sophisticated data software can help our understanding of how to best reach discrete audience groups. I love how tech innovations seem to open new windows of opportunity every day. But as always, it’s our job not just to open those windows, but to make sure that the view is inspirational.

Whether we revisit the magic of programmed slide modules, or follow AI into some hitherto unimaginable presentation frontier, awesome content is key.

P.S. If you have never experienced the charm of those old slide projectors, this classic scene from Mad Men says it all.

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