Not many people carry what is undoubtedly one of my favourite items of business presentation equipment. They should, because it’s very small and costs just a couple of pounds. Most of all, it can be key to getting you properly positioned for a business presentation and feeling comfortable enough to ‘own the space’.
Let me introduce you to the gender changer. All it really does is join one projector/TV monitor cable to another. Most of the time you will have no need of this, but on the first occasion you are faced with a too-short projector cable you will wish you had one. You want to position your laptop so that you can see it from your preferred speaker position – not have it tethered according to what the available cable allows.
This is most likely to happen in a room without a fixed projector. Someone arrives with one in a bag; typically, the accompanying cable will be about a metre long. By the time you have positioned the projector far enough from the screen to create a decent-sized image, you have little or no flexibility as the where to put your laptop.
Even in rooms with fixed projectors, having a gender changer and extension lead in yourbag can be an advantage. The ideal way to set up is generally on the left of a screen from the audience’s point of view. As Rule 5 of the Rules of Magic states, ‘Attention tracks from left to right, then settles at the left’. The reason for this is that, in Western cultures, we read from left-to-right. With this set up your audience will therefore look at you (assuming you have established strong eye contact), then look at the screen; then their gaze will return naturally to you.
With a right–to-left set up, on the other hand, your audience’s gaze will be veering towards ‘nothing’ on the left. You will find such a set up in many venues - regular haunts of my own such as the British Library Business Unit and The Royal College of Art are set up like this, often for good reasons such as there being a door on the left. With a gender changer, however, you have the flexibility to adapt the lay out to one of your own choosing. You can own the space!