Presenter with PowerPoint (common).  Presenter wants to move around a bit (!) and wants to have a visual to support his/her point (!) and doesn’t want to be blinded (!).  So far so good.

Only now we have an issue with how to transition through The Beam Of Light.

Best solution?  Don’t.  Stay out of the beam.  There are a couple of reasons that we, the presenter, want to stay out of the projector’s beam.  First, it is distracting.  The extremely strong light of the projector contrasts mightily with the ambient light of the room, and we need nothing more than a photograph to tell us that the contrast makes for distracting viewing.  Second, there is likely to be a “flash” as we cause an eclipse of the presentation, assuming we have anything bright in our slides.  Most importantly, we are confusing our audience.  They don’t know whether they should watch the presenter or the slides.

I saw a presenter a few weeks ago who was close to solving the problem.  Since the room had an overhead projector and the presenter was not tall, there was just a few inches of intersection between the projected slides and the path that she took across the room.  I couldn’t figure out why the slides so consistently displayed on her forehead.  Most of the time any text missed the actual presenter, but once the number 38 was clearly emblazoned across her forehead.  For about 90 seconds.  Long enough that people noticed.

As I tried to see why the bright light seemed to accentuate her forehead, I realized that she was moving forward until the light was out of HER eyes.  The bottom of the slide would usually be just above her eyebrows, and she felt that since she could see clearly, it must be OK for the audience as well.  That clearly is a violation of Rule #1, but it takes a walk-through to know where in the room we can roam and still stay out of the PowerPoint slides.  Make that walkthrough.

Stay out of your PowerPoint projection.

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