A reader just asked me what I thought of using a laser pointer with his slides. I started the conversation with ‘Don’t let the technology tail wag the presenter dog’. The rest of my comments:
- One major downside of using this tool is the need to look at the screen when using it. I regularly rant about not turning your back on the audience to read a slide to them. Using the laser pointer has the same effect – loss of eye contact and audience connection.
- Another less serious and more amusing result is the likelihood that a jittery hand would make the red dot jump around like a buzzing bee. Talk about magnifying your nervousness so everyone can see it more clearly!
- If a slide with a chart or graph is so complicated that you really need the pointer to help the audience understand it … then it really must be a terrible slide. And needing to use the pointer points that out. Better to create more effective slides and animate or zoom in for emphasis or clarity.
- That said, if you must use a laser pointer, use it wisely. Practice with it so when you point things out on the screen, you look at it in silence as much as possible. This will minimize loss of eye contact.
- Leave the pointer on the podium or table when not in use so it doesn’t otherwise limit gestures and become something to play with.
So, I hope you got my point about avoiding this evil little device as much as possible. It only weakens your image and reduces your credibility.