I've been on the speaking circuit for 25 years. I've learned a lot in that time about what makes a keynote presentation great; not just good but great. My Inc.com article on Presenting Naked covered the techniques of delivering great presentations. In this post I'll share some of the tools I use to make the visual part of my keynotes flow seamlessly with my delivery. There are hundreds of gadgets for presenters, and I've gone through most of them to find the few that really do make a huge difference in the control they give me to seamlessly manage a presentation and give it a bit of "Wow" factor.
Here are my five favorites, and why.
- Ring Mouse - My favorite and simplest remote is the Genius Ring Mouse. It is a simple unobtrusive device that fits on your finger like a slightly oversized ring. It's the smallest remote I'm aware of. I wear it on my left hand middle finger with its tiny touchpad and mouse button facing my palm. It's so unobtrusive that people always ask me how the heck I coordinate my presentation so tightly with the automated advancing of the slides! Genius has several models. Personally I like the simplest one, the basic Ring Mouse. Newer generations include laser pointers as well. Although, my take on laser pointers is that if you need a microscopic dot to point out the detail in your slide then your slide is just too detailed.
- iPhone Remote - My second constant companion is my iPhone Remote for my Mac Keynote App. I use Keynote exclusively because of its elegance, aesthetic transitions, and overall look and feel. The cool thing about this app (which is free) is that you can see the current and next slide. I can't stress enough how critical this is. Great presenters always anticipate the next slide and always build a bridge between slides. Knowing what is coming next is critical, especially if it's a relatively new presentation. It's like driving a winding round at 100 MPH, you had better know what is coming around the next bend or you're guaranteed to go off the road. (The same capability is now available on the Apple Watch, both for keynote and PowerPoint, The Apple Watch version does not include the look-ahead feature or images of the slides. I see it more as a novelty. There is something unnatural about having to reach over to tap my wrist each time I advance a slide)
- MYO Gesture Controller - One of my newest and coolest gadgets is the MYO armband, a wearable, which senses gestures that can advance slides, zoom, or create a pointer. MYO requires calibration and getting used to. But once you get used to it (and it to you) all you have to do is tap your middle finger to your thumb to advance a slide. Other gestures cause a pointer to appear or the screen to zoom in on a specific point. The biggest drawback of the MYO is its size. Although you can get away with wearing it under a shirt or blouse it feels like a device used to track you under house arrest. Although there is a bit of a "cool" factor in letting the audience have a peek at it.
- Lumobody anti-slouch - This next gadget seems trivial but for many people it's huge. As child I had the terrible habit of slouching (not slacking...slouching...). I'm not sure what was at play, perhaps a bit of shyness, an awkward growth spurt, or just bad habit. But I had to work very consciously overcome it. That may be why I'm so conscious of it when I coach other professional speakers. Nothing conveys greater authority and authenticity than good posture, especially on stage! That's where the lumobody comes in. It attaches magnetically to a garment on your upper chest and provides direct feedback (via slight vibration) when you adopt poor posture. Kind of like Mom yelling at you from the audience, "Stop slouching and stand up straight!"
- Royalty Free Video - The last item on my list isn't a gadget but it will make your presentations pop. We live in the age of constant video; motion and animation have become requirements to keep us engaged and entertained. However, video clips can be incredibly expensive. Even for short clips that only last a few seconds you could dish out $50-$500. One of the best alternatives is videoblocks.com. For just $99 a year you get access to an incredibly rich library of royalty free videos. One caveat at here, DO NOT use videos as a substitute for you! Videos should be simple backdrops to your messages; don't allow them to distract or take over the presentation. Used sparsely they can drive home and punctuate a point. Use them too much and they will simply distract and disorient your audience.
Have fun with these gadgets and tell me about others that you use in your presentations. Find out more about presentation techniques at my earlier Inc.com article Presenting Naked.
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