Public speaking and presenting are full of silly rules. One such silly rule is that you shouldn’t walk into into the beam of the projector. I disagree – it can be incredibly effective to get in the beam.

Hans Rosling gets in the beam

Hans Rosling gets in the beam

Why you should get in the beam

1. You show your energy and passion

One of the classic TED videos is Hans Rosling’s 2006 presentation. If you’ve never seen it before, do take the time to watch this amazing presentation:

Can you imagine if Hans Rosling had stood passively by the side of the screen as he explained his statistics? Lifeless! By getting in the beam and physically showing us the statistics, Hans Rosling demonstrated his energy and his passion for his topic and the audience loved it!

Interacting physically with your slides like Hans Rosling gives you a way of demonstrating your passion – and your audiences will love  it too.

2. You can dance with your slides

Dance with your slides

The slides should not be the wallpaper of your presentation. See your slides as your co-presenter, as your dancing partner – and dance with them. That means you’ll be interacting with them, explaining them, pointing out the key parts to your audience. And yes, you’ll get in the beam. But that’s a much better alternative to standing beside your screen like a lifeless doll.

3. It’s better than using a laser pointer

cat and laser pointer with writing

Some people recommend using a laser pointer. But just because remote mouse manufacturers put laser pointers into their remotes doesn’t mean you should use it. You have to make silly little circles around what you’re pointing to so that people can see it. This is wimpy compared to getting in there and showing people physically. Even when you have a big screen you can do this, as Hans Rosling shows. Mike Pulsifer has written an indepth post on the ineffectiveness of using a  laser pointer.

Tips on getting in the beam

1. Don’t inadvertently get into the beam

There’s one situation when you shouldn’t get in the beam. That’s when you don’t know you’re doing it. It can be very distracting to the audience. Being human beings we start focusing on the silly shadows instead of your wise words.

So be aware of the position of the beam. The closer you are to the projector the more central you can be without getting in the beam:

Screen interaction diagram

2. Be aware of blocking the screen from members of the audience

You also have to be aware that depending on where you stand, you may block part of the screen from people in your audience. This has a lot of people become projectionists instead of presenters. They spend all their time to frozen by the side of the screen. But, if your slides are primarily visual (as opposed to text) you don’t have to do this.

When you first show a slide, make sure you stand in a spot where all of the audience can see it. But once the audience has seen your visual, it doesn’t matter if you block part of the slide. The energy and passion you’ll show from interacting with your slides is far more important than not being able to see all of the slide all of the time.

3. Don’t explain your slide to the slide

As you get into explaining the slide, it can be incredibly easy to forget about your audience and direct all your focus to the slide. Look at the slide so that you can point to the right place then as you start your explanation turn back to the audience and talk to them.

So get into that beam, show your passion, explain your slides – your audience will love it.

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