cut the umbilical cord

Slides, laptop, data projector, power cables …so what’s missing?
How about a remote control to advance your slides? Without this seemingly insignificant device, we find ourselves permanently attached to our laptop by an invisible umbilical cord, constantly scanning the keyboard, to make sure we hit the right button to advance our slides.

To be more expressive, animate points more effectively and to really connect with our audience, we need freedom to move around. So break the bank and fork out for a remote control … but buy a good one! There are plenty of models available.

New generation remotes do not need special software. The receiver simply plugs in to any of your USB ports. They now have greater range and are not directional (you don’t have to point the remote at the receiver –although many presenters still insist on doing this – giving the impression they are channel hopping on their TV!)

The Logitec remote control is a good option. It has a built in timer display. Before you start presenting, simply dial in your cut off point and 5 minutes before your time is up, the remote vibrates in your hand (like a mobile phone). Congratulations to the designers … sounds like they have delivered a presentation or two! However I think they missed a trick. In my opinion, the remote control should vibrate at 5 minutes and then electrocute the presenter when the time is up !

Should I control my own slides or  get someone else to advance them for me?
What do comedians Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and Rodney Dangerfield have in common?  … timing! It’s a vital ingredient for great humor.  The same holds true for presentations … timing your slides to fit seamlessly with your dialogue is crucial. This invariably won’t happen if someone else is in control.

If you are talking at a conference where there is a staging crew, odds are they will hand you a ‘pro’ remote control! This has a large green triangle for advance … and a smaller red triangle, to go back to the previous slide.

A few weeks back, I was talking at a conference in Sandton and the staging crew handed me their ‘pro’ remote and then, curiously, (like a fast-food joint asking me whether I’d like chips or potato wedges), the engineer casually asked ‘would you like self advance or cue mode ?’

I was intrigued to know the root of the question, so he took me back to the staging booth and showed me a pyramid shaped receiver with an impressive set of LEDs, emulating the green triangle and red triangles on the remote.
‘Sir, (he continued), either we can set the remote for you to automatically advance the slides or set it on cue mode. It lights up this display, and we then advance the slides manually for you’. Yeah … like that will work!

Now you’ve cut your umbilical cord …
You now have the freedom to move. This gives you the ability to take your cue from the projection screen and not your laptop. This is a much better option … for several reasons.

When you look at the projection screen to prompt your dialogue, the audience will also be prompted to look at the screen too. As you look back at the audience, they automatically re-connect with you. It’s tempting to glance at your laptop, but you and your audience are now doing different things … your disconnected.

By gesturing to the screen, you give a clear signal … ‘look at the screen now’.  As your arm (slowly) drops down and you begin animating your message, you then signal ‘now focus on me’.

Remote controls don’t just give you control … they give you freedom to gesture and to really connect with your audience.

P.S. Don’t forget to pack spare batteries !


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