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Posted: April 03, 2012

The secret to great presentations

This simple tool changes everything

Dawn Bjork Buzbee

A top complaint from audience members is that many presenters put too much emphasis on PowerPoint and technology while neglecting the message and interaction with participants. One way to deliver more effective presentations that improve your connection to your audience is to add a remote control to your presentation tools.

Why would one more piece of technology actually switch your focus from PowerPoint to your audience? Have you been distracted (or bored) as a presenter stopped the flow of their talk to pace back to the laptop to change to another slide or as they waited for a partner to move to the next slide? This is one of the 6 reasons why you need a remote for your PowerPoint presentations:

  • Break Down the AV Wall. Without a remote, you are limited to the area by your laptop which builds a wall between you and your audience and reduces the opportunities for interaction;
  • Get Control. You never want someone else to control the computer while you have to keep saying, "next please" or flash hand signals. This approach breaks the flow of the speech, annoys your audience, and risks that your helper moves to the wrong slide;
  • Fewer Distractions. Use a remote to stop distracting others who watch you walking back to your computer to move to the next slide. Plus, a remote helps you maintain eye contact with the audience instead of looking at your laptop;
  • Smoother Animations. The impact and flow of most animations is lost when you run animations manually from your laptop;
  • More Professional. Presenting without a remote takes away from the professionalism of a presenter and directs the focus to the technology (or to the lack of tech-savvy if anything goes wrong);
  • Cool Factor. Okay, maybe not a key justification, but a remote is a nifty and useful addition to your technology tools and upgrades the delivery of your presentations.

With a presentation remote control, you can more effectively and smoothly deliver an electronic presentation and communicate your message. That said, even though I am a huge fan of remotes, you always want to know multiple ways to navigate with the keyboard while delivering a PowerPoint presentation. Keyboard commands may sometimes be faster or at least give you a backup plan. For example, while running a slide show, press [Enter] or N (for Next) to move to the next slide and type P (for Previous) to go back a slide or step. Click to for a free handout of more great PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts.

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro® and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 6 books. Discover more software tips, tricks, tactics, and techniques at . Contact Dawn at  or (303) 699-6868.

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Readers Respond

Thank you, Teri, Jim, and Julie for your comments and feedback. You are absolutely right, Julie, that PowerPoint should be treated as just a tool and not the focus of a presentation. What would you say without the slides? Some presenters would be lost because their presentation consists primarily of reading from their slides-ugh! Does the presentation have a clear goal or purpose or it is just a series of individual thoughts/slides packaged into a PowerPoint slide deck? Thanks for the suggestion, Jim, for an article on projector tips and tricks; it will be available in the future. Although large meetings often have a hotel A/V staff, the task of connecting to a conference or training room projector is usually my responsibility for a many of my presentations. This can certainly add to the stress of preparing and delivering a presentation. By Dawn Bjork Buzbee on 2012 04 15
Great article. I agree with the other 2 responses as well!! By Teri Karjala on 2012 04 10
Very helpful article. Another topic I’d love to see you cover is how to minimize the inevitable problems in getting your laptop hooked up to the projector in the conference room! This never fails to introduce anxiety for everyone in the room and a lot of distraction from what the presenter is trying to accomplish. By Jim Black on 2012 04 03
Good points, Dawn. Importantly too is to remember that a powerpoint is a sales "prop" - a tool for furthering your message, but you are still the actor or messenger. Rehearsing without your ppt will quickly show you whether you are using it to "prop" up your presentation skills. By Julie Hansen on 2012 04 03
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