Recently, a website visitor asked ‘Why do you recommend against using a laser pointer?’ There are three issues about laser pointers that erode your image of competency or credibility:
1. Presenters often feel it necessary to use one with a very complicated slide, like a spreadsheet, graph or flow chart. While the pointer might make it easier for the audience to focus in on the section being discussed, doing so clearly indicates that the presenter created an ineffective, overly complicated slide. Use the power of PowerPoint to electronically highlight a column on a spreadsheet or part of a chart. Or, even better, create a second or third slide that ‘zooms’ in on that specific portion. While these steps take more time and effort, they result in better slides and a more audience-centric and smoother presentation.
2. Using a pointer requires you to face the screen while describing what you’re pointing at. This can reduce volume as the sound waves now must travel first to the screen and are then bounced back somewhat diffused at the audience. If you’re is using a mic on a stand, turning away from it to look at the screen also reduces the volume. And looking at the screen a lot … means not looking at the audience! By now, you should realize that’s not a good thing.
3. Uncontrolled nervous energy often causes presenters’ hands to shake. Holding a pointer in a jittery hand causes the red dot to jump around a lot, calling even more attention to the shakes. Amusing, yes. Projecting confidence and control, no.
So, if you can, just say no to laser pointers so your audience won’t say ‘no’ to you.