PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

One popular training tip these days says that presenters should use their laptop as a monitor.  In other words, they should place it between themselves and the audience.  When they need to look at a slide they should look at their laptop, not at the projected slide that is showing on the main screen.  The main screen is for the audience only.

The rationale for this tip is that it prevents speakers from turning their back to the audience as they look at the main screen.  By looking at the laptop instead, they remain facing the audience.

It sounds OK in theory, but in practice, many presenters become detached from their audience.  They spend a large part of their time staring downward at their laptop, and they stop verbally referencing the slides.  Instead of saying “As you can see here on this graph…,” they just talk about the contents of the graph while the audience members do their best to follow along.

I still find that a better connection with the audience is maintained if a presenter speaks to the main screen, gesturing toward it and verbally guiding the audience members’ attention.  As you can see on the far right of the graph, there was a dramatic drop in sales in the fourth quarter.

Any tendency to turn completely away from the audience can be minimized by moving close enough to the screen that only a slight turn is needed to see it.  It’s when speakers get too far out in front of the screen that they are forced to turn their back to the audience in order to see the slide.

Well maintained eye contact, while referencing the main screen together with the audience, makes for a good audience-speaker connection.

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