The Off Button

The most important part of a laser is the Off button. Even some world-famous scientists have shown they do not understand the use of the Off button. Instead they have used a dancing, jumping light as they talk. The light flashes up/down-left/right-zig/zag-circle/swirl: The audience can hardly hear or see the good science because their eyes try to follow the path of light as it sweeps irrationally around the screen. The speaker knows what the light is trying to emphasize, but the audience does not. Consequently, the audience's comprehension and concentration fade. Your job as a presenter is to learn to use the laser correctly, or not to use it at all.

When you use a laser, employ a single, steady spot of light to show the audience where to look. Use a 2-3 second spot of light, indicating the exact location of the information you are about to explain. Keep the light steady; your voice silent; then snap the laser off and talk. A moving streak of light confuses the audience about where they should look and when you talk at the same time you flash the laser, the light will flicker about and distract the audience from hearing your words. Watch at your next conference and notice how a light flying about the screen like a nervous butterfly makes reading diagrams extraordinarily difficult. Your audience consists of intelligent people who want to study and understand your slides. Let them.

Once you have learned to master the Off button you show the audience: 1) You are a skilled presenter, 2) You know your slides well, and 3) You respect your listeners.

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