In Iran I stood to the right of the screen, in the USA I stood to the left of the screen, in Bangladesh I had no choice.
People often ask me which side of the screen should the presenter stand. As if it makes a difference? And it does.
Often this is determined by the room size and position of any fixed screen or projector but if you have a choice you should adopt the reading pattern of your audience.
You see in many countries we read from left to right, we have done since we entered primary school and this subconscious habit governs how we gaze at the presenter and the information she is sharing on a screen at the front of the room.
In the UK we read from left to right, so stand to the left of the screen, facing the audience and point to your visual aid which will be to the right of the audience. If you want proof watch the BBC Weather and the presenter is always standing to the left of the map of the country and he points out cold fronts and precipitations using his left arm and the audience gazes from left to right just as they were reading a magazine.
When presenting your visuals, follow the weatherman’s techniques. He’ll be keeping eye contact with the camera, you should keep eye contact with the audience as you point out aspects of your visual.
I use the TTT method – touch, turn and then talk. So touch the area of the visual you want to highlight, then turn your head to the audience and finally talk. Touch, turn and talk.
Better still, let the animation built in your visual do the pointing out for you
If you ever have the opportunity to present to an audience that reads right to left such as Iran or Saudi Arabia then you simply swap positions. It’s the sign of a professional.
But sometimes the room design leaves you with no choice, and that happened to me this week in Bangladesh but this is such a subtle technique, nobody really noticed at all.