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Chapter 9. Working the Charts, Successfu... > Use Visuals and Gadgetry to Add, Not...

Use Visuals and Gadgetry to Add, Not Distract

  • Correct a problem immediately without calling further attention to it. Ignoring an upside-down viewgraph, a badly focused projector, or improper lighting prolongs the poor conditions. Apologizing, joking, or insulting the equipment or operators adds to the negative impressions possibly already created. What your audience wants is to get on with it and see how you perform under adversity.

  • Avoid creating your own distractions. One of the biggest and most common distractions is a presenter who lets his body or arms get into the projected image. I once watched a series of presenters who stood right in the center of the screen, with images on their foreheads while they addressed a group of reviewers. (It's also amazing to see ads for projection equipment showing the speaker standing right in front of the light.)

  • Use gadgetry only as intended—not to juggle, lead the band, or toy with. One speaker held a ballpoint pen in his hand, and clicked it about every five seconds. The laser pointer has a useful function, until the presenter forgets it's on and light flashes on the screen and around the room (and listeners duck for cover when that fierce light comes their way). When that wandering mouse appears on screen, it entices viewers to follow it, to nowhere of course. It is absolutely riveting to watch a speaker toy with a pointer or wave it around like a swashbuckler (see Figure 9-4). How much of the message do you suppose is being heard while the sideshow is going on?

    Figure 9-4. Use pointer to direct attention to information on visuals, not to skewer audience.

  • Look at the screen only when you want the audience to do the same. If you look at the screen, we will presume you want us to do that too. If you frequently look at the screen as a nervous mannerism, you create your own distraction. I've watched speakers glance four to five times at a blank screen; it's intriguing to imagine what they were pulling from there.

    Pass objects or materials around only after you have completed your presentation. Doing it in the middle, a common occurrence, creates a whole series of little distractions as objects are inspected, passed along, or dropped. Show it, discuss it, and invite them to examine it when you don't mind losing their attention.



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