Talks: Don’t be a laptop yo-yo

by Jane on February 15, 2011

When you give talks or lectures, do you move around the room and point at the screen when required?   Does that cause you, like a yo-yo at string’s end,  to sproing back to your laptop every 2 minutes to advance the slide?

Or do you have the opposite problem:  Do you give your talk while staring into your laptop, telling it, instead of your audience, all your wonderful discoveries?

Either way, consider using a wireless mouse or remote to advance the slides.  I like my Keyspan wireless mouse with red laser pointer, which comes with an ergonomic no-look thumb toggle.  Others like the white remote that comes with Apple laptops.  It’s a cheap ($20-30) way to improve your talks.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Geert February 15, 2011 at 9:44 am

I feel that having to move towards the laptop to change slides might be a good thing. It emphasizes the transition through body language, and might trigger the speaker to announce and explain the link to the next slide more clearly. Likewise, I prefer a “stick” over a laser pointer because it triggers body language!


2 Marcel February 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

And if a laser pointer is used, use a green one. Those are much easier to see (I guess because they tend to be brighter)! I do not agree that walking back to the laptop is a good way to transition slides. If a clear sign is needed that something changes you can do that in different ways, both verbally and through body language. The presentation on screen should not be a cheat sheet for the speaker, so also the slide transitions should not have to trigger the speaker to explain something.

If somebody knows of a remote control for presentations that is versatile (i.e. does pdfs, powerpoint, open office presentation, keynote and works on linux and mac) and that has a bright green laser, I would like to hear about it!


3 Jason March 27, 2011 at 12:04 am

I find that green laser pointers are terrible for presentations for the very reason that Marcel has hyped them: they’re bright! Too bright. When you’re giving a talk, the lights are generally dimmed and to have that exceedingly bright green dot show up on the screen, and furthermore to be forced to look right where it’s pointing, leaves me with a bright green residual dot in my vision after I’ve looked away. I don’t think anybody has a problem seeing the red laser pointer dot, provided that the batteries aren’t nearly dead. Using a green laser pointer for anything beyond outdoor nighttime star pointing seems, to me, over the top.

4 Tri May 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Rather than a laser pointer, I would prefer to use the good ‘ol long stick, since it’s firmer and clearer when you’re pointing at something and not shake as much as a laser pointer (if your hand is as firm as Robocop I guess I wouldn’t mind a laser pointer. Circling a certain area quickly with a laser pointer doesn’t help either). A telescoping stick might be something that I should carry around in my bag. But I agree with Marcel, if there’s a versatile remote I would like to hear about it because I’m usually far away from the laptop and moving back and forth can be distracting.


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