Important reasons NOT to use a laser pointer

As a kid, I loved playing with laser pointers. I would shoot the beam across our garden into my neighbours’ living room and listen with mischievous joy as they exclaimed at this mysterious dancing spot on their walls. In addition, living in a house with a resident count of at least three cats at any given time, laser pointers have given me many happy hours of fun.

As a professional presenter, you absolutely need to have a presentation remote in your daily arsenal. And when I first got my remote (with a built in laser – yaaay), I was transported to my younger days. My cats and I shared a few minutes of child-like fun that evening.

In spite of the fond memories associated with the laser pointer, I do not recommend using them in presentations – and here is why.

Crowded slides

Most often presenters need to use pointers on slides to help their audience keep track of the content they are currently speaking on. If you need to constantly keep highlighting to your audience “this is what I am now talking about”, then you most likely have too much content on your slide.

Turning your head away from the audience

When you communicate, 93% of your message is received through your non-verbal communications (i.e. your facial expressions, your vocal variety and your gestures).

Now, unless they have eyes on the back of their head, a presenter always has to turn his or her head towards the screen to aim the pointer at the correct piece of content on the slide. The minute your head is turned from the audience, they can no longer see your face, your voice is no longer carrying as well and your body is contorted. Your audience is now losing out on that 93% of your message.

Distracting

I am not sure if this is just me, having been raised in a household with several cats, but I find the constantly moving dot and the shapes it draws on the canvas of the slide quite distracting. Most of the time, I end up watching the dot and never actually reading the content the presenter is trying to showcase. (If you are also like this, please let me know I am not alone).

What can you do instead of using a laser pointer? The answer is quite simple, but the execution needs preparation and practice.

The best way to avoid using a laser pointer is to keep your slides organised, clean and focused. As the presenter, your job is to guide the audience through your content. You should not let them wander around and then keep pulling them back to the point you are trying to make.

Secondly, if you need to highlight components of your slide (for example, walk them through a screen layout), use semi-transparent greyed-out squares to remove focus from other content on the slide. It is also helpful to arrange for a feedback screen or, at the least, leave your laptop on a table in front of you, so you can also see which item is in currently in focus.

By doing this, you will be able to avoid using a pointer and thereby keep the cat instincts of your audience at bay.

Crowding a slide with content is the lazy way out for presenters, take the time to think about your audience’s experience. Even though you have to spend more time creating the slides (this is where you call me), it’s worth it to give your audience a more powerful, meaningful experience.

Do you need help transforming your slides into ones that are organised, clean and focused? Drop us a message through our contact us page.