5 tips to save your batteries (and your presentation)

Slide presentations are a staple of the business world.

Every day, there are millions of PowerPoint, Keynote other slide presentations around the world. By some counts, the figure is 30 million each day!


If you are going to use to a slide presentation, use a remote to advance your slides. I discuss the reasons why, and offer six tips for handling the remote, in this post.My current remote is the Logitech Spotlight. It is excellent. Here is my full review of the device, including the pros and the cons. One of the pros is that it has a built-in battery. You charge it by plugging it into your computer. When fully charged, the Spotlight should be good for at least three months under normal use.Not having to use batteries means one less thing to worry about and it is better for the environment.

Still, I recognize that when it comes to remotes, there are good alternatives to the Spotlight and most, if not all, run on standard AAA batteries. That means there is always a risk that the batteries will run out of power during the presentation.
Here are five simple, but often overlooked, tips to avoid having your batteries run dry or, failing that, to allow you to react quickly if they do.

1.  Never leave the batteries in the remote when not using it. Even if you turn the remote off, the batteries will still drain. Instead, remove them and keep them in the same case where you keep the remote.

2. Always have a fresh set of batteries as a back-up.

3.  Leave the fresh set in an easily accessible location so that you can get them quickly, if necessary.

4.  Know how to replace the batteries smoothly and correctly. You want to minimize the time spent doing this.

5.  Stay calm while changing the batteries. Put the dead batteries in your pocket or somewhere out of sight. If you are comfortable, you can continue speaking to the audience; for example, by making light of the situation. If, by some chance, there is a way to relate your problem to what you are speaking about, even better.

If, after replacing the batteries, the remote still does not work, don’t make a big deal out of it. Just advance the slides by using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Not ideal, but you have to do what you have to do.

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  1. Thanks for the tip! I’ve just located my two remotes and removed the batteries. I once had to do a demo training course without a remote and felt like I was doing a dance between the computer to advance my slides, and the place I could stand without being in front of them. An experience not to be repeated…

    1. Thanks for the comment, Caroline. Good on you for removing the batteries. And I agree with you about avoiding the “dance” at all costs! Worse than the dance are the presentations where the person speaking tells another person to advance the slides with “Next slide … next slide …”. It’s like driving down a beautiful country road with speed bumps every 100 metres.

    2. Thanks for the comment, Caroline. Good on you for removing the batteries. And I agree with you about avoiding the “dance” at all costs! Worse than the dance are the presentations where the person speaking tells another person to advance the slides with “Next slide … next slide …”. It’s like driving down a beautiful country road with speed bumps every 100 metres!

  2. My favourite of these tips is #5 (stay calm, and make light of it if you can). For me, making a joke out of a glitch has helped me feel far better about the situation, and has helped to bond with the audience more. So I even recommend planning 1 or 2 witty lines to use in such cases.

    By the way, another tip is to keep a whole spare remote handy, which makes the switch far smoother. For instance, you could keep a small wireless mouse nearby, and use that if your remote dies. (Models designed for travel use are often small enough to hold discreetly, without using a desk or other surface.)

    Tips from experienced speakers – from the trenches so to speak – are extremely helpful, so thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Craig. Depending on how informal the setting is, one can also continue speaking about the subject matter at hand without referencing the technical glitch. I’ve done it in the past with lectures that I have given at universities. But it requires a mental bifurcation: talk about subject / fix problem. And, you need to be able to look at the audience for at least part of that time. It can be done, but if a speaker is nervous already, better to fix the problem first and then get back to the presentation.

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

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TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

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CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

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Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

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HR Specialist, World Health Organization

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CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

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Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

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Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

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