The Presentation Quick Fix this time is ‘block the screen whenever you speak for a considerable period of time’. And here is why and how.
The visual aid e.g. flipchart, PPT, projector does not always â€˜aidâ€™ our presentation if we do not use it properly. This is especially true on projector. Nowadays, projectors produce very bright and clear image. More importantly, participants / audience have generally developed a tendency to look at the screen NO MATTER WHETHER the content is relevant or not. This is true. In fact, the same applies sometimes to presenters as well. Some presenters are so used to look at the screen when they talk. I had a participant who turned back and looked at the screen as he talked, even though it was a blank screen. Habit rules. This phenomenon is like that at home â€“ sometimes we look at the TV set without really paying attention on the content. People are more and more used to look at the TV set or screen with brain blanked. Perhaps we are resting our brain, somehow. Observe yourself next time at home.
In some sense, the visual aid is competing with the presenter for the participantsâ€™ attention. So, the question is how to â€˜winâ€™ the battle. Easy, block the screen and stand to the middle of the stage whenever you need to talk for a considerable while. But how? There are a few ways:
1. Use the â€˜Bâ€™ or â€˜Wâ€™ key â€“ When you are in Powerpoint â€˜Slide Showâ€™ mode, you can empty the screen by simply press a button. If you press the â€˜Bâ€™ key, the screen will be totally black. And white for the â€˜Wâ€™ key.
2. Use the remote presentation device â€“ There are a lot of good remote presentation devices. Basically, they allow you to page up and down without using the keyboard i.e. you can freely walk on the stage. Some good devices even have a button equivalent to the â€˜Bâ€™ key on the keyboard. See the picture on the right – it is the Kensington device which I use. Oh, and Kensington now has a better one which you can use AAA batteries i.e. easier to replace the power.
3. Use the â€˜STILLâ€™ / â€˜HOLDâ€™ / â€˜PAUSEâ€™ or â€˜MUTEâ€™ / â€˜NO SHOWâ€™ key on the projector remote control â€“ There is a downside using above 2 methods â€“ you can do nothing on your computer e.g. amending a slide or retrieve another PPT. For example, after you press the â€˜Bâ€™ key, both the projector and the computer screen will become black. However sometimes, you block the screen because you want to find out a file from c: drive and open it. Well, you do not want to let your Coca Cola client see that you have a Pepsi Cola file on your c: drive!! Here is the solution â€“ your projector normally comes with a remote control. Use it. There is likely a â€˜STILLâ€™ / â€˜HOLDâ€™ / â€˜PAUSEâ€™ button. If you press it, the projector will stay on the existing image, even though you change the image on the computer. In addition, there is a â€˜MUTEâ€™ / â€˜NO SHOWâ€™. If you press it, the projector will project nothing.
Remember, point this remote control to the projector, NOT your computer!!
4. Simply block the projector physically â€“ I like this trick the best â€“ just simply put a cover in front of the lens. See the pictures on the right. Very straight-forward. You do not need to find the remote control which hides somewhere on the table. You will be embarrassed because you are already holding the mic, the notes and the pens. And this trick will never disappoint you like what an electronic device will!! I always use unless the projector is hung from the ceiliing!!
PS Note however that you should not block and unblock the screen too frequently. And if you find the participants are paying real attention on the screen, tell them that you will block the screen before you do it. Otherwise, it will be very disturbing to them.