Casting a reality check on real-world conundrums
Don’t worry about it. There
will always be people who will
copy your words and try to
make them their own. Besides,
no PowerPoint® slide should
have the full ‘meat’ of your
information. A few key words
copied are not meaningful
without the speaker’s stories
and style. Be more concerned
about staying fresh and
relevant than on what this
person is doing with your slides.
Plus, most conferences are
publishing your slides on the
I would start a casual
conversation with him about his
intentions, instead of accusing
him of something. I’d want to learn
if he’s going to give credit to the
speaker. If his intentions were truly
unethical, I’d ask if he is familiar
with plagiarism and professional
ethics. If he isn’t, then I’d give him a
brief explanation of both.
San Diego, Calif.
I would say, ‘You’re really
taking detailed notes from
these speakers! Just in case
you’re not aware, all of their
material is copyrighted and
we can’t use it without their
permission, other than for
our own personal notes.’ If
he intimated to me that he
didn’t care, I would alert the
conference organizer about
At a conference, you notice an audience
member taking notes on a laptop. But
rather than typing in a Word document,
he’s actually copying the words from each
speaker’s PowerPoint slides onto his own
slides. Should you say anything? If so, what?
If I didn’t know the person,
I wouldn’t police it. That sort
of thing will be found out. If it
was a friend, I’d ask him why he
was doing it in a casual, non-judgmental manner.
—Ian Cook, MILR, CSP
I don’t assume everyone knows about copyright infringement,
so I would quietly say something like, ‘Her message is noteworthy,
isn’t it? Are you planning to deliver this presentation? It’s obvious this
speaker has spent years developing her expertise, her brand and her
presentation. If you plan to deliver this exact presentation, you’ll need to
credit her on every slide to identify your source, in order not to commit
copyright infringement. It may serve you better to internalize her words
and then develop slides that truly reflect your point of view on this
topic. Shall we chat more after her presentation is finished?
—Lenora Billings-Harris, CSP
What Would You Do? is a regular column
that presents a real-life dilemma faced
by professional speakers. NSA members
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I don’t have a problem with it. I would even ask him
if he’d like a PDF of my slide deck.
After speaking, I’d
make a beeline to this
person and say I was
curious as to how he’d
be using the slides. If he
was planning to make
a presentation with
them, I’d tell him I was
honored. But then I’d
graciously remind him
that it was copyrighted
and suggest how I’d
like him to attribute the
material to me.
Lake wood, Colo.
White Bear Lake, Minn.