A few years ago I was sitting in the audience at a conference when I noticed the luncheon keynote speaker was starting to become a bit perturbed.
He had walked on stage and began talking and realized there was no presentation remote (often referred to as a “clicker”) on the podium. He didn’t skip a beat with his opening but mentioned out loud “I could use a clicker.” He chatted for a minute or two while expecting the A/V person to run up on stage with a clicker.
The keynote speaker now was not a happy camper and asked again in a more demonstrative manner.
I happened to know the speaker and decided to grab my own remote out of my backpack and ran up on stage and began plugging the USB connector into the laptop. The A/V person took over at that point and the speaker was able to continue on with his slides. It turned out that the previous speaker had put the remote in his coat pocket and walked off and headed to the airport. The A/V team only had the one remote, leaving the speaker in a bind.
And just recently at client conference I was getting ready to introduce a speaker and the A/V person, who earlier assured us he would bring us a clicker, still hadn’t done so. I raced to the cloakroom located a few minutes walk away where my backpack was stored and returned with my own clicker. The A/V person eventually showed up with their remote, however several minutes into the client’s presentation.
I share these stories because whether you speak once a week or once a year, this type of situation is bound to happen to you at some point. But it is easily preventable by purchasing your own remote and carrying it with you at all times.
Presentation remotes typically range from under $20 to more than $200, but some of the best and most popular cost between $35-$75. If you think you will speak at least a few times per year, I recommend you buy one.
Besides a clicker not being provided or available, there are two other reasons I recommend purchasing your own presentation remote:
- Being comfortable with a presentation remote is not a trivial thing. I’ve used clickers at events that seemed to have a delay or you had to click extra hard on the forward button which sometimes leads to advancing two slides, instead of one. Such a minor annoyance has the potential to mess with your concentration and flow.
- A/V provided remotes don’t always work properly. Clickers have been known to randomly freeze at a certain point in the presentation; not be fully compatible with Macs; or have low battery life and risk dying in the middle of your presentation. Having your own ensures your will have a working remote, but also means you have a back-up clicker if the A/V provided one fails to work or be available.
If you don’t have your own remote yet, here are a couple of quick tips:
- Arrive early to your session room and make sure a remote is available and present.
- Test it out and make sure you are comfortable with it.
- If you have your own clicker see if the A/V people will let you use it.
- Regardless of which one, make sure the remote has plenty of range, works smoothly and has enough battery life.
- If you are using your own Apple Mac laptop to present from, make extra sure ahead of time that the provided presentation remote is compatible.
If you are ready to buy a clicker, here is a list of 5 of the more popular presentation remotes based on asking several people who speak for a living, my own experience and popularity on Amazon.