Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
Certified Microsoft Office 2010 Specialist (MOS 2010) Master Instructor
Certified Microsoft Office 2007 Specialist (MOS 2007) Master Instructor
Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) Instructor
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If you deliver electronic presentations using PowerPoint or other
programs, you can move forward to the next slide with the keyboard or
the mouse. For better results, advance through your presentation with a
Many projectors come standard with a remote but features vary and may
not always be easy to use. A better choice is to buy your own personal
presentation remote control.
When evaluating a remote, look for these
features and decide what is important to you:
- Ergonomic and easily fits in your hand.
Keep in mind that you might be using the remote for an hour or an
entire day. Plus, a smaller remote will usually have fewer and more
accessible buttons, fits in your pocket, and is great for travel.
- Simple to use. In most cases, a smaller,
ergonomic remote is easy to use but test it before buying. One of my
friends loves her small remote which is only about the size of a
matchbook. The tradeoff is she needs to press 2 buttons together to
make the screen go black, a feature that doesn’t always work.
I was reminded of the importance of an easy to use remote when I
watched an excellent presenter pull out a huge remote that looked a
price scanner gun from Home Depot. As he fumbled with a large panel of
buttons, the remote dropped to the floor and broke open with batteries
flying across the stage.
- Transmit distance. Remotes operate with
three different technologies: RF (wireless radio frequency), IR
(infrared), and Bluetooth. A huge drawback with IR remotes is that you
need to point the mouse directly at the receiver for it to work.
Bluetooth remotes use the latest technology but currently have a
maximum range of about 30' while many RF remotes have a range of 50 to
100 feet. With some remotes, you can have your back to the laptop and
move to the middle of an audience. What do you need for your
- Built-in mouse. Some presenters will
sacrifice a bit in size to get a built-in mouse, usually a small
button like you see on some laptops. Other remotes have a track ball or a touch pad. I
prefer a separate wireless mouse that I use for portions of my
presentations. I find a built-in mouse to be too awkward but it might
be great for your purposes.
- Visible laser pointer. If you’d like a
built-in laser pointer, make sure to test it for visibility and
practice moving it slowly. Some of the pointers have such a small
laser dot that it doesn’t show well on screen. Would an animation be a
better way to highlight parts of a slide or a process?
While you can locate some remotes at your local computer store or office supply outlet,
your best option may be to find someone who has a remote and try it
out. My favorite is the RemotePoint Navigator (www.smklink.com/products/remotepoint-navigator)
which is easy to use, fits comfortably in my hand, and gives me up to
50' of movement from my laptop. I've owned this remote for 10 years now
but it is still reliable. Another great remote for about $80 is the
Logitech Professional Presenter R800 (www.logitech.com)
which includes a green laser and a cool timer which vibrates to tell you
when your presentation time is up.
There are many other models and brands to consider. Personally, I
don’t like remotes loaded with tons of features that you might not need;
these remotes are typically bigger or more complicated to use. Remember,
you should be using a remote so that you don’t call attention to the
technology and your audience can focus on your content.
Practicing with a Remote Control
After you buy a remote, practice with it before you use it. Don’t
just try it at your desk, you need to also setup your laptop and remote
and actually run through your presentation. The first time I did this,
the screen kept going black or I would accidentally advance to the next
slide. The problem wasn’t with the remote; it was that I was holding my
presentation handout in the same hand and accidentally hitting a remote
button through the handout. An easy adjustment but not obvious if my
only rehearsal was in my office.
I personally like to choreograph my slide actions into my
presentation notes to avoiding looking back at the projection screen to
check my location. Or, setup your laptop in the meeting room so you can
glance at the screen and still keep the connection with your audience.
Rehearsing with your remote should be a built-in part of your
presentation rehearsal to avoid distracting your audience and
accomplishing the goal of communicating your message.
Bonus Tip: Always bring extra batteries;
many speakers change out batteries for every presentation. If possible,
label the remote or put several business cards in the carrying case in
the event that your remote is misplaced.
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
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 software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
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Before using a laser pointer in a
presentation, practice making slow and smooth movements to avoid
|Add fresh batteries
to your presentation remote control before each presentation.