Scientific presentations: next time use the mouse!

There is one funny thing about modern scientific presentations. We use PPT or Keynote and have nice looking images, data table, figures and movies. Yet when it comes to pointing out a specific element in a slide, we are given an external tool (external to the presention system) : the laser pointer. When you do that, and in particular if the preson presenting is sightly (or overly) stressed out, interesting things happen:

  • Laser is flashed at the audiance and not only at the screen.
  • In rooms with a main monitor and secondary monitors or two main monitors (large ballroom), the laser is shown only on the screen you are pointing at i.e. you are loosing a significant portion of the audience.
  • The best one (and it happen regularly), pointing at the computer screen with the laser (or with your finger!): it does not help you nor the audience. It does make for a good laugh however…
  • So for your next presentation learn a new trick: using the mouse or trackpad to “point” directly on the computer screen. It will show on all monitors and no one will be worried about getting a laser beam in their eyes 😉

    P.S.: no these laser pointers are not dangerous.


    1. If you do a lot of pointing I can see your point. Otherwise, if you are standing free in the room when talking (as I do when I am teaching), always going back pack to the desk for the trackpad/mouse is not a good option. It being an external tool (for which I do not need a desk as for a mouse) is the main reason for using a laser pointer, at least for me. Therefore, if I had to point more often, I would use one of these laser pointers with an integrated “mouse” for using the cursor.


      1. Point taken. I also prefer the laser pointer when teaching. However for scientific presentation in the context of a conference, the general setting is “podium-type” presentation. There, the laser pointer is an inferior tool…


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