Tips for better software presentations at your creative agency

Here at Function Point, we provide a web-based agency management software solution. We do a lot of online presentations of our program for sales, training and support purposes. There are many skills that contribute to conducting an enjoyable and effective online presentation. I have found that one of the most important skills is mouse/cursor control. This skill often gets forgotten but is very important. By following a few simple rules, you can dramatically improve the quality of your online presentations.

Steady Cursor Movement

It is very important that your cursor movement is smooth and steady in your online presentations. Nothing is more annoying than trying to follow a cursor that the presenter is rapidly moving all over the page. Always remember to move your cursor slowly, smoothly and do not lift your mouse off of your desk. Your mouse sensitivity should be very high. You should be able to move your cursor from the bottom left corner of the screen to the top right corner without having to lift your mouse off the desk. Because your mouse will be so sensitive, it will take practice to keep your movements smooth and steady.

Direct Your Cursor With Purpose

There are 2 aspects of online presentations: audio and visual. Your audience will always focus their eyes directly where your cursor is pointing even if you are talking about something unrelated. Therefore you must always be speaking about the item that you are pointing at. Be cautious with highlighting. When you are trying to emphasize the importance of something on-screen, most presenters will attempt to highlight it. This is fine as long as you don’t accidentally highlight half the page. Because your cursor is so sensitive (see above), it is easy to accidentally highlight more than you intended. If the item you want to draw attention to cannot be highlighted or you don’t wish to accidentally highlight more of the page, simply move your cursor slowly and smoothly back and forth below the item. Sometimes you will be speaking about something that is not on the page. This brings me to my next tip…

Correct Use of “Dead Space”

Not the video game (although it’s a pretty sweet game). Dead space is any area on your screen that does not have any data or any actions that can be taken within it. When you are speaking, your audience will automatically try to relate your words to your actions (where your cursor is pointing). If you are speaking about something that is not on the page, you should put your cursor directly into the middle of the largest dead space on the screen. This will make it easier for your audience to understand that the position of your cursor is not related to what you are speaking about. Do NOT take your cursor off screen unless you have to. Your other monitor is not effective dead space because your audience cannot see it (unless you are showing both). Not being able to see your cursor is worse than it being pointed at an unrelated item because while your audience may be listening to you, their eyes will be searching for your cursor and this is distracting. If you must take your cursor off screen, tell your audience.

Describe Your Actions

Always let your audience know what you are doing. If you need to drag a file or window from another monitor, tell them as you do it. If you need to backtrack a few pages or look something up, always explain why. If you need to look something up and plan to use the time to talk about another topic, tell your audience the plan. There’s nothing wrong with speaking about something while your cursor is doing something different, as long as your audience understands what’s going on. Keep your audience in the loop and they will respect you for it. Never assume that your audience understands what you are doing unless it is blatantly obvious.

The point if these tips is to help make your presentations more enjoyable. If you break all of these rules in an online presentation, your audience may leave annoyed and not even know why. Most people don’t even think of these rules and may associate the negative vibe created by breaking them with the subject of your presentation. If you’re presenting a software program (like the creative agency management software I present every day) and your presentation is sloppy and hard to follow, your audience will think that the software is sloppy and hard to follow. Just remember, slow and steady wins the cursor race.


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