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Beware the Laser Pointer



by Bob Goodyear

“I feel like a dog.”

Have you ever watched a dog, maybe YOUR dog, chase that wiggly red dot of light from a laser pointer? Isn’t that great fun? Have you ever wondered what the dog is thinking after a while when it can’t ever catch the dot? I think I may have an idea about how a dog might feel after attending a technical presentation given by a product manager.

The presenter had a wireless presentation remote. It’s a best practice that presenters should have a device like this to allow them to advance or reverse their presentation slides on their laptop from anywhere in the room. Almost all remotes have a laser pointer built into them. This allows you to highlight something on your presentation slide or maybe somewhere else in the room.

The product manager started his presentation by showing his first informational slide. It contained 5 bullet points that were text only. He looked at his slide, pointed his remote at it and used the laser pointer to highlight bullet point #1 as he read it word for word. He then repeated the same process with all of the remaining bullet points on the slide. The laser pointer was constantly moving across the slide.

He advanced his presentation to the next slide where the process was repeated. After the fourth slide I heard someone behind me say, “I feel like a dog.” I chuckled and then heard him say; “Now I know how my dog feels when I use my pointer with him.” For the rest of the presentation, most everyone around me watched the laser pointer run around the projection screen and not pay much attention to the presenter.

A laser pointer can be a good thing to use to point out a highlight on an occasional slide. Perhaps you want to point out a specific part of a diagram as you explain it. Maybe you want to emphasize a number on a simple graph. This will draw your audience’s attention to one specific area of the slide and then you can proceed.

My advice to you is this: Beware the laser pointer! If you use a laser pointer, use it sparingly so that it’s an exception in your presentation. You don’t want your audience to be distracted by it. The last thing you want to hear is someone in your audience saying “I feel like a dog.”




Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with their presentation.

Reach Bob by email or by phone at 678.447.7272