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How Stepping into the Beam Can Help Your Presentation

March 21, 2016 / Blog, Infographics Powerpoint, powerpoint presentation, presentation tips, public speaking, Rick Enrico, SlideGenius

A cartoon man in a white shirt and tie is being "beamed up" by a spotlight in a grassy field under a night sky with a large moon. He is holding a briefcase and smiling. Text on the right reads, "Beam It Up! How to Step Into the Light with your Pitch Deck," featuring the SlideGenius logo.

In public speaking, crossing the projector’s beam is one of the biggest no-nos that every presenter should be aware of. It’s a careless act that greatly distracts audiences from a distance while also lessening your credibility.

Like other disruptions, this can lose your audience’s interest and prevent your presentation’s success, no different from how poor delivery and cluttered PowerPoint decks make the crowd zone out. However, is walking over the beam and covering your projection really all that bad all the time?

Can It Really Be Effective?

In every rule, there’s an exception. While it’s true that blocking off the audience from viewing your slides is a mistake, it could still work for certain situations.

In her article, presentation trainer and public speaker Olivia Mitchell explains that delivering a pitch with statistical concepts can be difficult, with all the numerical data displayed. However, it can be better understood by using visual illustrations, such as graphs and charts, to make it more interesting. TED speaker Hans Rosling, a data visionary and global health expert, is an example of a professional presenter who brings complex statistics into life. While speaking, he likes to get into the beam. But instead of distracting audiences, it makes it easier for them to understand the statistical facts that he’s presenting.

What Does It Indicate?

Making your data sing doesn’t only provoke interest. It also convinces your audience to listen attentively. This is what Hans Rosling does to show his enthusiasm in interacting both with his slides and audience. He makes sure that the crowd understands his message by exaggerating body movements that emphasize his words.

In doing so, he considers his PowerPoint presentation as his partner in conveying his main idea. While laser pointers can help you emphasize a certain point, circling around a particular word or phrase can be distracting, putting the focus on the pointer instead of on your speech. Simply pointing to it using your finger can work to deliver a clearer idea.

How Do You Get in the Beam?

To help you out, here’s a few guidelines for getting into the projector’s beam:

1. Be aware of your position. Going to the venue prior to your performance can give you an idea on where to put yourself come presentation time. You can also practice walking around the podium and plan the right location to stay in.
2. Don’t block off your audience’s view. Allowing the crowd to see your slide completely is one of your goals as a presenter. You don’t want to hinder your audience from comprehending your message. Once you display your text or visual onscreen, you can get into the beam and let your body language heighten your performance.
3. Interact with your listeners. Explaining your slides is important, but focusing on your audience is more important. You can physically go into your visuals but make sure not to set the crowd aside.

To Beam or Not to Beam?

Getting into the beam while presenting can be distracting. However, considering your audience can help you pull it off for a more interesting and persuasive presentation. Though it’s frequently considered a recipe for a disastrous performance, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Be conscious of your body language, your venue, and your audience so you can judge for yourself if you should be jumping into the beam. Our PowerPoint professionals can assist and offer you a free quote to craft PowerPoint decks that stand out.

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Mitchell, Olivia. “How Getting in the Beam Makes You a Better Presenter.” Speaking About Presenting. September 17, 2009.