Why is a clicker so important?
If a clicker is used well the audience will not even notice the movement of your slides, very unlike the distraction of moving back and forward to the keyboard of your laptop to tap the keys. A good clicker costs less than £20 and will make all the difference to your next talk. Below are some things to remember when using and buying your presentation clicker.
You're not watching TV
One of the most common mistakes when first using a clicker, is acting like you are at home watching TV. As we can spend a great deal of time in front of a television flicking from station to station channel surfing, it seems perfectly natural to point towards your slides and do the same. Instead practice moving your slides forward with the clicker resting in your hand - there should be no indication to the audience that you are clicking anything. Remember the device is fully wireless, and will pick up the signal wherever you are. Steve Jobs was a master of subtlety when using a clicker in his presentations…
Blanking your screen
Most devices will also have a button to ‘blank’ your screen. This can be an incredibly powerful addition to the device. Having your screen go dark means all the attention is back with you - the speaker.
You may have just shown a strong image or some important data and now you need to make a bold statement. With the screen off, the audience will have all eyes on you.
Laser pointers are best saved for entertaining cats!
All modern clickers will have a laser pointer built into them. Some are green but the vast majority are red. If you have both a cat and a laser pointer already, you will know how much your pet loves chasing these little specks of light around the room. During a presentation however these dots can be incredibly difficult to keep still and, if you are nervous, the movement will be amplified. As an audience member this can be distracting and sometimes annoying.
If you can, point out something on your slides that you can physically reach. Use your hand and touch the screen - it will give you ownership over your material. In contrast, the laser pointer can distance you from your material and also make the slides appear more important than what you are actually saying. It’s crucial in any presentation that the speaker is the main focus and not their support material.
There may well be an occasion where you can’t reach your slides and you have to use the laser – but use it sparingly, or take a page out of Al Gore’s book and use a crane…
Features to look for when choosing a clicker
There are many devices out there and they can range from £10 to £100. So what should you look out for and how much should you pay?
One of the most important elements to a clicker is how it feels in your hands. Can you easily feel the keys to move your slides forward and backwards? We would recommend one that has well raised keys that are easy to distinguish when you are in full flow in front of everyone. If you suffer from sweaty palms due to nerves then clickers that have a highly polished finish will become very slippery in your hand and should be avoided.
If you need to play YouTube videos then consider one that can double as a remote mouse - although these are often more expensive. We don’t think you need to spend more than £30 to get a really good clicker – whilst we don’t have an affiliation with any manufacturer, we are big fans of the Kensington.
A final thought
If you are new to using a clicker, then spend some time practising at home before tackling a major keynote speech.
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