Remote simplicity: Use a small remote to advance slides
August 23, 2005
I see a lot of presentations by very smart people, yet I rarely see presenters use remote-control devices to advance their slides. Usually the presenter stays next to the computer on a table or podium or walks back to the computer to change slides every few minutes (if they move at all).
You have heard me say it before, but a remote is a must. No excuses, got to have it. If you are not currently using a remote to advance slides, adding a remote to your delivery style will make a huge difference. The remote allows you to get out front closer to the people, to move to different parts of the stage or room, and to make those connections.
When we stay glued to the the laptop and look down to advance every slide, our presentations become more like slide shows with narration, the kind our uncle used to bore us with when he whipped out his 35mm slide projector with highlights of his latest fishing trip. Yawn.
Remember, we want the technology behind our presentation to be as invisible as possible to the audience. But when we have our hand on the computer and our eyes are moving back and forth from the computer screen, to the keyboard, to the audience (or projector screen), this becomes more like the "typical PowerPoint presentation" that people complain about.
I advise staying away from IR (infrared) remotes because with IR remotes presenters have to line up their remote with the receiver on the computer. This leads to presenters extending their hand toward the computer and "clicking" the remote in a very obvious motion. We do not want the audience to even be aware that we have a remote — the visuals should just flow behind us or appear to our side when needed, seemingly automatically.
Better than an infrared remote control is one, such as the Keyspan Presentation Remote which uses radio frequency. You do not need to point this type of remote at the computer. It is easy with this remote to keep your finger on the advance button and simply advance slides — or turn the screen black, etc. — without the audience noticing that you pushed any buttons at all.
Small is beautiful
I prefer the Keyspan because it is small. It only has basic features, but what else do I need? You can buy remotes that you can mouse around with on screen and are equipped with myriad other features, but they are large and call attention to themselves. Tom Peters uses something that looks like a TV remote, for example; it's large. Perhaps it has a greater range than the smaller remotes, but I have walked to the back of rather large ball rooms with the Keyspan remote and still been in range. In any event, I believe in using the smallest remote possible.
Take a look at the picture of Sean Schertell in the post (Aug 22) below. You can notice (barely) a small remote-control device in his right hand. This allowed Sean to tell his story while visuals appeared to flow in and out automatically. Many were probably not even aware of his remote at all.
In order to have true synchronicity with your visuals, a remote is a must. Is it hard to do? Like anything else, it takes practice, but Sean did an amazing job with the Keyspan Presentation Remote and he was using it for the first time. The Keyspan just feels very comfortable and natural...and simple.
I've tried more remotes than I care to remember, looking for the perfect one. The Keyspan is OK, but I think there are better (and probably cheaper) RF-based choices if one doesn't need to mouse around: the very versatile Griffin AirClick USB, or the Kensington Wireless Presentation Remote with and without a laser pointer. I use both the Griffin and the Kensington every week in different settings. Oh, the Logitech Cordless Presenter looks very nice, but is way too expensive.
Posted by: jpkang | September 15, 2005 at 11:49 AM
Thanks for the comments. The AirClick looks good (and a great price too).
The LCP is way out there on price, isn't it? I'll buy the AirClick and give it a shot.
Posted by: Garr | September 15, 2005 at 04:28 PM