How important are your mouse movements in your demos? Very!
Consider a typical live 1-hour demo: When delivered over the web, most (or all!) of the session will rely on your mouse for pointing and software execution. In face-to-face sessions you have the option of using your hands, fingers, or other pointing tools to direct your audience’s eyes, but a large portion of the demo will be under mouse control.
Your mouse is your primarily vehicle for visual guidance in demos. Here’s a story that illustrates the challenges that you may also face:
A colleague and I were doing “booth duty” at a trade show, where I was serving as the salesperson and my colleague was presenting demos. This coworker was known for being exceptionally bright and charismatic. They knew the software intimately and could construct and deliver demos wonderfully, but with one flaw: Their mousing was erratic. In fact, they were the cause for the origin of the phrase, “Zippy Mouse Syndrome”!
It wasn’t just that their mousing was bad: It was magnificently awful! The mouse would circle the screen, then fly away tangentially, then linger ever-so-briefly in a corner, then reemerge to describe wild geometric figures before collapsing into a vibrating, quivering mass in a pointless location (pun intended). All of that consumed just a few seconds, then repeated. Endlessly!
During a demo that afternoon, after just a few minutes of these excursions, the prospect gently (but firmly!) placed their hand over my colleague’s hand and stopped the hand (and mouse) from moving.
“I think I should drive,” they said, “You just tell me what to do…!”
They balance of the demo went wonderfully and the prospect (we learned later) purchased our product.
There’s a lesson or two here…
Your mouse is you when you demo. Make its motions reflect your statements, explanations, and your overall message. Your mouse isn’t limited to pointing, it also enables you to underscore and highlight items, circle, designate, annotate, link and combine items. In all cases, move your mouse smoothly, deliberately, and precisely. Face-to-face presentation skills classes teach participants how to use their arms, hands, and body to support and reinforce their messages. Your mousing should be applied similarly.
For most disciplines, intentional practice is required to become proficient. All of your mouse movements should be practiced until they are executed smoothly, deliberately, and precisely. Record your demos and evaluate your mouse movements: What did you do well? What could you do better or differently? Practice and repeat until your mousing is “unconsciously competent”.
Of course, “perfecting” any skill is a challenge. As Winston Churchill said, “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds!”
How is your mousing?