Security Awareness Blog

Presenting Lesson Learned #4 - Emphasizing Key Points

This is my 4th post in a series on mistakes made and lessons learned for successful presenting. Today I want to focus on key points, or more specifically how to emphasize key points during your talk. By emphasize I mean perhaps you want to explain some key numbers or demonstrate how a network diagram works. A common method I see used is a laser pointer, those shiny red or green dots people point at the slide. I hate these with a passion.

  • Those laser dots are damn hard to see. The laser dot is always so small and people's hands (especially mine) tend to shake making it hard to focus on the dot.
  • As a presenter you have to turn around and face the screen when using a laser. This means your back is to the audience and you are talking to the wall, not the attendees. This is bad.
  • To me the laser dot seems so impersonal. "Hi, I'm the presenter, I'm too damn lazy to walk over to the screen and point out these key areas, so I'll just stand right here and wave my little magic wand while you squint at the slides".

Instead I prefer walking up to the screen and point with my hand. The advantages include it is much simpler for people to focus on your body and understand what you are emphasizing. Also, using your body is far more personal as you are facing them directly. The key is making sure your body is open to the audience, do not show them your back. If there are multiple screens just pick whichever one is the most central to the audience, people will gravitate to whichever one you walk up to. If the screen is very large or far behind you, walk up to the projector, then instead of using your arm to point things out use the shadows created by your arm. In rare cases I understand you may have no option but to use a laser pointer, but t in about 90% of the cases I find using your own body works. It may sound odd, but I find small points like this really help create a bond with the audience, keeping them more engaged and interactive.