I’ve watched a couple of presenters in recent weeks speaking in large classrooms/auditoriums that had two screens/displays showing their PowerPoint.  there is nothing inherently wrong with that, especially if the rooms are overly wide or curved such that certain locations make a single screen hard to read (in neither case I witnessed was this the issue, but I digress.)  We’ve got two screens: so be it.

The major problem with the two screen setup is an extension of the major problem with using a display in the first place: just what do we want our audience’s attention to be focused on?  Is it us, the presenter?  Or is it the fine content in our beautifully crafted PowerPoint?  (hint: it’s about people, and your PowerPoint likely isn’t all that beautiful).  This is made tougher when there are TWO screens, and most presenters like to point at or use laser pointers to highlight their slides (that’s a post for another time).  What am I to look at if I’m in your audience?  And if you’re focused on one screen, what do I do if I can’t see it?

I don’t like laser pointers at all, but if there are two screens, they should absolutely be dropped.  Otherwise you’re excluding some audience members or making it tough on them.  And by all means, if you have a room big enough for dual screens, use the available space to make the “speaker screen” equally split between right and left.  Don’t play favorites with your audience — include everyone.

Don’t exclude half your audience. Split focus equally between dual displays (and use just one if it’s possible).

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